Oct 28, 2010

A Million Shinning Microcosm Worlds

I was thrilled.

I had been hand chosen by my supervisor to purchase an emergency travel pass for someone at work.

The address they gave me was a far away, albeit official location for such transactions. Never mind that such things can be bought anywhere. Certainly anywhere within fifty feet of the building where I work. Not to mention, online.

They had handed me the Big, Official location.

All due to googling, no doubt.

I thought to say something. In fact, I started to say the very thing I thought to say (even as I grabbed my coat, my scarf, my bag, my umbrella) the words still sort of spilling out of my mouth even as I got onto the elevator.

I don't think they caught any of this, though.

And so I proceeded to the far away location. Not in a cab but on foot.

This might take hours!

Did I mention how much I love to walk around semi-aimlessly and get paid for it? Even if it was cold out today, and I was dressed not for winter so much as for whatever it was last week, which was pretty great weather-wise, I was okay. Except at the bridge.
It was pretty bad at the bridge.

No matter.

I made my way to the Headquarters. Of this Particular Place. And great things happened along the way.

For one thing, the sky was just right today.

And I was alarmed by the way neighborhood of my destination had changed. How different it looked at ground level than, say, from the windows of the west bound train.

How brand-new it all appeared. Re-paved. Spotless. As though that entire ward had been put through a dish-washing cycle.

I mean, wasn't I here just a few weeks ago when the combination stench of arson and shrimp baskets was the stuff of local poetry? Where the entirety of it's cracked windows provided a weirdly pleasing multi-faceted, diamond-y effect?

As one skated by, seamlessly via bullet proof train.

Was it the ghetto?

Thermos of reassuring peppermint tea in hand.

Or was it diamonds?


But none of that mattered anymore.

And that's the thing. Now it smelled not like burning buildings and lack of hope so much as crisp one hundred dollar bills. And a little bit like Mrs. Meyers laundry detergent.


I don't have a dish-washer anymore.

That the break from all other activity that washing the dishes currently imposes upon my life, despite the colossal waste of water and feeling that I could just as well be painting and re-painting the same wall over and over again, is one that I've come to terms with. That is to say, utilize in the name of "me-time."

You know, for thinking, worrying, plotting - it could be anything.

I should further mention that the wind at the bridge was not simply bad, today, but flash-freezing bad. As well as veritable hair-do assassination bad (not to be confused with character assassination bad, though there was some of that in there, too).

But did I care?

I mean, some of the Christmas lights that were going up were actually lit. Which created a subtle air of anticipation. A sparkly pre-Halloween, yet, not-exactly-Christmas feeling that I can't quite put my finger on.

Is it raining?

Is it snowing?

Is it day?

Is it night?

Is it raindrops on the windshield?

Raindrops on the windshield reflecting a million shinning, up-side-down microcosm worlds? As seen from in here, the snug interior of this cashmere colored car?

As we oh-so quietly wait for what's next?

And what did those raindrops reflect? Was it something better? Because it seemed like it was something better.

Or is it just another slow, dark day at the photo studio with Miles Davis and oh-so many unruly bath towels to style?

Or is it pumpkins and detectives, again?

All dried blood and alleyways?

All mangled fingers and ubiquitous gifts of money?

Because, as gray as it was today, such lights were better for the contrast.

it's morning. It's dusk.

It's dissonant! It's mildly confusing!

Furthermore, after all of my epic online searches, it was without fanfare that I simply happened upon a mom-and-pop grocery store, here, in the Loop.

Such was the nature of my travels, today.

Just thirty blocks away from work, Bernstein's couldn't be more convenient. And this grocery store had not just a salad bar, but a sandwich bar, as well.

I dropped everything.

This was unprecedented and required all of my focus. I needed to decide.

It was tough, but in the end it was (simply) two thick slices of toasted, whole wheat Italian garlic bread prepared with an herb-infused, homemade mayonnaise, two different kinds of mustard, tomatoes, cheddar cheese, and cold, rare sliced roast beef --with a mere finial of imported Greek olives placed stylishly on top.

And then, out of sheer panic, some smoked turkey.

And it was spectacular.

Of course, I could have gone any number of ways. But the above seemed rational if not just as a sandwich. And, seeing as I was a new-comer at Bernstein's, and rightly sensed that I was being eyed as an interloper (that reckless, last minute smoked turkey being the culprit) I thought it best to play down my sandwich choices for the time being.

It was then that I quite casually, in keeping with my guise of blending in at the grocery store, took a bottle of Joy off the shelf and placed it in my basket. You know, for later. For figuring things out.

Oct 23, 2010

Goodnight, Loop

It was late. I couldn't leave work until I'd finished something so that my boss could travel this week. And the big important meeting, which had gone on all day, was still in progress.

This all-day meeting had gone, as one might imagine, through several phases:

At 8 am it was coffee. With people all-business-like and just bathed. Smelling of focus, determination and something pleasantly synthetic -- was it dryer sheets? Listerine?

At noon it was sandwiches, with people folding up their sleeves, tossing off their shoes and earrings and getting comfortably serious.

But, by 2 pm, people began running in and out of the room with panic on their faces (needing things, PDFs, better pens, for me to text them at certain junctures just so they could leave the room).

At 4 pm there was a lull. Which was punctuated by yelling about twenty minutes later. Where the mood of the meeting pretty much remained until about
7 pm (when, finally, someone laughed, and, then, everybody laughed). At which point drinks and Chinese take-out arrived immediately to the conference room, literally, out of thin air.

And, just like that, the whole place became littered by a million boxes and bottles.

Then, finally, at 8 pm, some people filed out.

Personal calls were made.

And, I guess everything was going to be okay.

Except for me.

Me, at my desk the entire time. Going through the well documented stages of crisis. Imagining, at times, simply abandoning my job and being so happy not to worry about these flight itineraries anymore (a convoluted, headache-inducing travel plan that took several people to three cities in two days, then briefly back here, then off, again, to two other cities).

When I finished my work and left the building (the meeting still going on, though by then securely in it's "wrapping-up" phase), it was late. I was exhausted. But I was happily surprised to walk out into balmy weather. It was warmer than it had been that morning. And this was October.

And, the Loop, as busy as it normally was, was weirdly empty after business hours.

It was nighttime.

I looked up and noticed something spooky quietly unfolding above the University situated at Jackson and State. At eye level, looking east, this intersection is a bookstore, a bus stop, the mouth of the subway, a man with a microphone talking about Our Inevitable Damnation, cars, and people -- with some el tracks tucked behind everything else.

But, by now, it was deserted. And the eerie cloud-thing going on in the upper right corner of my field of vision couldn't be ignored.

Weirdly unfolding clouds, lit by some yet unidentified light, were doing arabesques in an otherwise ink-black night sky.

I thought these clouds might be lit by a spot light or an up-light, but it turned out to be moonlight. The moon in the Loop, normally being an afterthought of a pale speck in the sky (if one notices it), was currently the biggest moon I'd ever seen.

I mean terrifyingly big. The way the moon is idealized in travel photographs of places along the equator.

And then, if this could be any more dramatic, there, a-top the eighteen or twenty stories of the university, amid the moon and the continually disappearing and reappearing veils of clouds, I saw a turret.

How did I ever miss such a detail on this building, before?

It was the northwestern-most facing turret of the building, that, in all it's century old green-copper-conical architectural relentless-ness, stood against this, most creepiest of scenes.
So, an unsettling spectacle of absinthe colored clouds was gathering and re-gathering under a huge October moon, with an old batty turret in the foreground. And, here, I hadn't smoked anything.

I half expected Sherlock Holmes to sweep in
all a-sparkle, brimming with literary magic, merely to inquire if wouldn't join him on an adventure that could only be embarked upon through the Wonders of Reading.

(with him only ever looking at me through that big, psychologically distancing magnifying glass of his).

No. I went home.

At long last. On the west-bound train. Watching as this particular scene shrank away while the moon, itself, remained constant.

And life was, once again, just so.

Oct 20, 2010

I Never Promised You Cookies or a Rose Garden or Anything

Imagine that you want to make cookies for someone. You bake them and wait for them to cool on a special cooling rack. Yes, you've thought that far ahead. Things like cooling racks are now a part of your paltry kitchen vernacular.

You're not a baker. And waiting for the cookies to cool falls somewhere between okay-boring and a full on crisis of your super-ego.

But then the fun part finally starts, and it's better than you could have ever imagined. And was probably the whole reason you made the cookies in the first place.

And it turns out that you really like decorating cookies.

Preparing the icing does require every bowl in the house. But that's okay. Mixing up hundreds of gooey-paints to frost one's cookies with just might be the best thing in the whole world.

Besides, you want the colors to be just so. It's a whole cookie-situation that you see so clearly in your mind. And, if you're honest, it's a whole cookie-situation that got you out of bed this morning. Perhaps every morning.

No. It's going so be so very funny. These cookies. And delicious. Of course, that, too.

So you do this in the spirit of: Fun and Happy Cookie Project. Like something out of Martha Stewart minus the perfection or like something your friend Beatrice would do, minus the expertise.

Beatrice, who bakes the kind of cookies that bring tears to peoples's eyes, that reviews are writen about, that are really tables of cookie at big events and weddings.

This will be more fun and less an operation than that. Because Bea, she's got a chef's hat, yes -- but rather than being puffy or cloud-like, it's one of those starched-high numbers (forbidding like an ivory tower or a religious principle that one must adopt for reasons that we won't go into here).

These aren't those cookies. These are lay-man's cookies.

Still, no matter how forgiving a stance you take, about twenty-four hours later, after the icing has set and you've slept and let your mind wander onto other things (and have paid some bills) you decide with fresh eyes that your cookies smack of outsider art.

They're insane.

How did this happen?

How could you have not noticed this before? Was it all the other things going on in your head? Was it the stress? The wine? That fistful of barbiturates rinsed down with a tumbler of vodka?

Actually, unfit. That's the word: The whole batch, all smiling sadly up at you from their stupid plate, are unfit as cookies.

But you need to send them out in the mail. Where, you imagine they will inevitably arrive as cookie-rubble, anyway. Do you have time to start all over again?

Wait --can't we walk away and think about this for a bit?

And on and on late into the night. Then, it's finally decided: you will make the cookies all over again this weekend. Applying all of the principles recently learned during the original (unfit) cookie making. Because we learned quite a lot during in the interim, didn't we?

And because, damn it, we care. About things like cookies. And so everything is better again. Just like that. Except for one thing: This is not the first time one has made and re-made such cookies. Let's be brutally honest, right now.

And it's not just cookies. It's everything.

So, now you might imagine one's whole life going like this. With nothing ever okay or ever simply passable. To the point that even (and perhaps especially) one's handwriting, which, yes, was bad to begin with, but became, later (unfairly) worse - after a few fingers were finally broken (in the most hateful of ways).

So that, ultimately, one only email others. Even when others are situated less than three feet away. Even when speaking to them is clearly an option, because even that might betray your bad handwriting.

So that swirly practice pages of:


might be found one day by one's boyfriend (quite by accident) while one's boyfriend goes looking for a scrap of paper. And then, predictably, all hell breaks loose:

Why do I keep finding these alphabets all over the house?!

as well as:

What the hell is up with you?

Meanwhile, numbers?

I have no problem with numbers.

I have no idea why.