Saturday, March 7, 2009

Embracing Repitition.

Undetermined, I reach my gloved hand into my Timbuk2 messenger bag and passively rattle my custodial-sized key chain to check that they are secured to the attached clip and in my possession. I firmly grab and tug the door handle; flip the lock on the back of the door, and twist, awaiting the abrupt halt in motion to indicate its locked position. The first of four doors click as the second is opened, marking the first succession in a waterfall of security denoting my departure from my fifth-level apartment in the granola neighborhood en route to the plastic, material nine-to-five life. I put on a smile, think about the free daily awaiting me at the end of my seventeen-minute gait to the metro station and slide the cover of my travel mug counter-clockwise so as to open a slot of space to power back the desired first sip of my delay-brewed morning coffee. The walk down the steep hill from the complex and up the rounded knoll out of the valley beholding the community center is tranquil, revealing a setting of comfort. Violet crocus force their leading green stems through the loosening soil, lazily manicured lawns create a sense of untamed wilderness in an unarguably residential area, and an inescapable scent of freshly laid manure dominates a three-house stretch near the zenith of the ascent. My pulse begins to settle once the sidewalk plateaus, as I am included amongst an emergence of the neighborhood’s white-collared labor force who are converging at the trunk of the numerous trestles of pathway leading to the transit hub. The next block or so is a profiled view of partially forested yards while the spectators jockey for their walking positions. After a few aggressive approaches and surpasses, I discover myself near the front of the procession and follow the concrete trail through the green lawn dotted with oaks and maples, and converge upon the entryway of the red line with the cheerful, yet mentally absent, male who hands me a newspaper with a trite, but kind, salutation to which I return with like sentiments.

According to the digital display, the wait for the next train will be two minutes today, which is a typically average period, allowing me adequate time to cross the platform and position myself in front of an rail car with fewer occupants. I obtain my idled place and check the day’s headline as the train arrives and slows to a stop. I lightly tread towards the opening door and enter, immediately glancing for a place to sit over the next forty minutes and successfully discover an empty window seat next to a slender, business man conscious of personal space. I interrupt the suspecting passenger and sink into my seat; shaking open the newspaper and folding it over, so as to reciprocate our shared idea of comfort in not breaching the invisible border dividing our paired seat.

The seat is covered in a rich, mocha brown leather hide, which displays a light scratching and wear associated to furniture that is a consistent second option to rest within. The enormous coffee he was at first hesitant to purchase feels idyllic and the sausage muffin tastes more filling than the considered healthier option, as he vigorously pages through continuous articles pertaining to a recently deceased favorite writer. The café is familiar, although the precise time is a meal earlier. Every couple of weeks, he accompanies his partner to the Virginia vicinity of a scheduled, social engagement, but usually deviates a block away before the meeting, to attain a more comforting locale to distract his anxious thoughts. The separation is brief, and rarely accomplishes the initial productive aspirations, but he usually achieves a sense of clarification through his forced procrastination. Emotions are lightened as he rewardingly rationalizes his distraction, and convinces himself that self-imposed deadlines are only such, and that it’s these interruptions that award those who partake in the mundane. He believes the tedious nature of the common day is a dirt , which covers the simple distraction that is anything but. As he ponders the warming thought, from his peripheral vision, he spots a familiar silhouette striding towards him, effortlessly wearing an optimistic and refreshing smile.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

A Secret Meeting.

He had developed this routine and ventured on numerous endeavors similar to this particular one over the past two months. The young man would nimbly stroll across the sparsely decorated room to whisper to his lover, so as not to be seen as too disruptive to her ongoing studies, that he was going to head down to the public house for a bottle with intentions to discover lighthearted banter. She would vaguely reply for him not to be late and that she would be finishing her evening’s efforts in a couple of hours. Somewhat satisfied with this retort, he would carefully close the apartment doors behind him and leave the cooled air of the domicile for the smothering, humidity that was the remnants of the powerful sun’s closing rays. The first blocks in his adventure were usually bustling with folks tiring the bones of their domesticated animals, but once he crossed the overpass of the interstate beyond the nearby greenspace, the voices would disappear and the sound of passing traffic would begin to taper down to faint rumbling.

The truth was that the tavern he had earlier alluded to was not ahead of him, but instead there were emptied buildings and an abandoned old paper mill in the forefront. This part of the city had been left behind dozens of years ago when the commerce and its relying residency at once decided that the proud soul of the neighborhood had been lost and could never again be recovered. Occupant plight transpired seemingly overnight and portrayed remnants comprised the skeleton, which the young man had been traversing through. The sprite young man had grown curious of this place upon his first adventure when he noted the wildlife, which peered from behind the decaying infrastructure of this stretch of cityscape. Rodents and squirrels had claimed what other’s had left, and made it theirs. Other untamed creatures had stumbled upon these grounds in a manner perhaps similar to that of the young man; popping out of the comfort of the park across the arterial for a glimpse of what this unoccupied landscape may have to offer.

The young man had developed this pattern of travel when he and his partner had solidified their intention to leave the city at the summer’s conclusion. Autumn would bring desired changes for them both, but the pressure of the time spent in this setting had taken a bit of toll on his psyche. The interactions were not the cause of this wear, but his life had taken a desired new path with perils nobody can ever be completely prepared to handle. He was beginning to find solace within this period of his life and was welcoming to the nearing prospect, but could not help to feel the closing lifeline of this period had been partially missed due to personal indecision. Some external exploration had been declined, but his stubbornness managed to fashion this repeated journey.

Upon reaching the abandoned mill, the young man would gingerly slide through the void left by two planks of wood that were dislodged just outside the jamb of the mill’s backdoor. Careful not to catch the fabric of his shirt on an exposed nail, he would deliberately twist his torso to meander around the protruding obstacle. And once beyond this minor hindrance he would glance into an outsized room that was completely bare minus the dust that floated through the air and the cobwebs draping from the above rafters. Over the preceding years, looters had managed to snatch anything that may have remained from the great transition and now there was nothing left to absorb the light piercing through the shattered windows of the surrounding cinderblock walls. Within this space, there were several columns of steel standing lonesome to provide support for the above story of the mill, which could be reached by ascending the concrete staircase to the right of the young man. Slightly timid, he would gracefully jaunt over to the stairs and climb the flight to the above floor that was similarly designed to the ground level, but with the exception of a couple of crates scattered in a corner by one of the windows in the front of the building. The young man would cross the room while peering around the empty stretches to ensure that he was without company. Although he would always feel that his darting glimpses would catch sight of someone or something, it had always failed to. For whatever reason the factory was no longer serving as shelter to any seekers, despite its potential offering of comfort from the long days of summer.

Once the young man reached the wooden crate closest to the partially broken window, he would softly rest his body down and lean forward as to prop his elbows on his knees and stare at the quieting day off in the distance. He would contemplate his future endeavor in his secret place, and set his starred eyes on the gray rooftops of dilapidated homes across the street of the mill’s entrance. The buildings were mostly constructed of orange brick, with windows creating voids in the structure’s plane that were impossible to look into. Birds fluttered in flocks from one brick building to another, but always seemed to pass by the apex of the lone Victorian in this stretch of former residences. The triangular peak had appeared to have the best view on the entire block, but no oriole, robin, crow or wren ever hesitated by it when zipping from rooftop to rooftop. The young man had often found himself wondering why this was the case until he witnessed the reason upon his final evening of awed examination. Beyond the visual analysis he performed from the mills second-floor window, he had found the furtive cause.

By late August, the young man was so comfortable in his surroundings that he would stay until the moon became the only source of light in this clandestine world. And on this very calm evening he discovered his thoughts and vision again focused upon the lone rooftop and its unclaimed location, when suddenly a great object entered his periphery powering its large gold and brown wings until it reached the summit and perfectly settled its robust figure onto the point with the enviable view. It instantly made sense to the young man; this aged barn owl was the sole owner of this reality. When the other’s lost what they needed from this neighborhood and left for brighter futures, only then was the solitary creature able to discover what it had always aspired towards. Its keen, wide, black eyes had limitless view in this environment, which enabled the Ghost Owl to utilize its exceptional senses. Encompassed by seclusion, the great bird was able to unite with the emptied human landscape and concentrate on its scampering prey.

The young man was enamored by the spectacular sight of this aerial predator claiming a position in this alternative world that other’s of his kind would never find. Linked to their rural settings, the other owls of the region would never venture beyond their farmlands in the county. Never place themselves within the reach of the unfamiliar or possibility of harm, and never discover their own place or their own euphoria. Youthful adventure existed in this man’s world, but could only be completely embraced once the turbulent condition had been calmed, and the mind could grasp the breadth of his adventure.

Saturday, March 29, 2008


Stepping off the final MARC commuter train for the week, I decide to disregard cautious intentions and brave the twelve-block corridor from Penn Station to my shared apartment in Charles Village. An hour and a half prior, I had departed from the company of a co-worker and his circle of friends after viewing some tournament games at some drinking establishment in Dupont Circle. And it was during the farewells in which I had received an abbreviated phone call from my potential ride home from the train station notifying me that there would be no ride home this particular evening. There were a few attempts to reconnect after the lost transmission, but they were futile and had fallen on deaf ears or silenced ringtones. My prospective intention was to hail a cab outside the station and transport myself to my front door in the hands of safety at the price of seven or eight dollars. However, I still had some adventure and whiskey left in me this evening, so it is with a clouded mind that I began this particular walk home on a clear evening/early morning back to my third floor apartment.

The first segment of this brief and familiar endeavor leads me past a stretch of row houses peppered with occupants or small businesses, but mostly, long abandoned or condemned. Buildings without consistent life whose insides, found behind layers of plywood covering the windows, I often picture as being shoddily furnished with crumpled newspapers, discarded wrapping of various articles of consumption, and other slighted trails left behind by the downtrodden seeking temporary cover. It is past these connected buildings that I reach a vacant lot at the corner of North Avenue where a handful of groups await the last buses of the evening to carry them to their last destinations of the day. At the corner I overhear some comment directed towards me concerning my jacket that I am unable to interpret, while I cross the four lanes of traffic with tunnel vision focused on the Baptist church on the adjacent corner. The next couple of city blocks are less lively, as the house of worship spans the entire first block and the next is shared by a parking lot where I cannot recall ever spotting an idled automobile, but I assume provides its service to the aforementioned church, and another stretch of semi-vacated row houses. On the front steps of one of the presumed occupied homes my upward gaze catches the eyes of a man about my age, who inquires to whether I may have a lighter, to which I reply that I do not and apologize. There is no acknowledgement, so the walk continues past some more recently renovated row houses where I have noticed an increase in residency since I began making this daily stroll sometime at the end of last summer. Looking forward, I cross the street and see two women whose scant attire brings to mind a different meaning to “night walking.” The two of them peer at me as I pass and one exclaims to the other that I look like someone or another, the subject of comparence I am unable to determine, because I am a bit surprised by the depth of this supposedly feminine voice. I’m still a bit mistaken as I proceed up Saint Paul and beyond two liquor stores, a twenty-four hour bail bondsman venue, and another figure adorning a plaid skirt and skimpish top who simply stares at me with some sort of fixed gaze that appears void of any real concentration.

After I pace by this final participant in my minor adventure, I embrace the solace of the homestretch and notice the presence and scent of the cherry blossoms appearing on the limbs of seemingly every tree in sight that protrudes from the square plots encompassed by sidewalk. A pleasing view that brought a bit of juxtaposition to the dreary urban occupants I had encountered on this particular walk home, as I reach for the key that will unlock the front door to my apartment. Once I have reached the front steps to my row house, I fix my eyes to the front windows on the third floor and see luminance pushing out of the glass and into the black of night. Upon opening the door my senses are awakened by the strong odor of cigarette smoke and raucous laughter and dialogue emitting from the door on the second floor. I climb the first flight of steps past the noise and then proceed up the second set of steps to the final door that leads into my last destination for the day. I twist the doorknob, it is unlocked, and push inward to enter the conclusion of my night walk where I discover a note under the door inviting my girlfriend and I to a birthday party downstairs and my girlfriend’s tired eyes fixed to her laptop that she is connected to via headset.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Empire Builder For Hire.

Many Americans are expressing genuine fear as the weekend newspapers detail the latest plummet in stock values, and as abroad travelers continue to discover a weakened value of aged Mister Franklin in the global economy. Well rest assuredly my fellow compatriots, for the solution that continues to escape the minds of national economists may in fact comprise much of your recently furnished loft. Seemingly every one of our homes flauntingly displays a piece of this newfound glory of rich Americana, whether it is the inexpensive dresser that effortlessly stores your winter and summer wardrobes, the quaint ottoman that necessarily comforts your loafers after the press of the nine-to-five, or the inconspicuous teapot settled upon the rear burner of your cooling stovetop. It is this adopted corporation’s questioned craftsmanship, individually labeled with a quirky moniker, which summons us to flee our uninviting and simple abodes in pursuit of the coziness and complexity only found in a two-story royal blue cube with solar yellow bolded type. Leave it to a leading Nordic nation possessing novel ideas such as universal healthcare and education to further flood our imported, capitalist market with an export even more enticing than fair-skinned blondes, cellular phones, and Jens Lekman. However, what at-first may only seem to be another case of Viking-foolery upon the naïve Yankees later develops into a prosperous partnership and soon-to-be exploited endeavor by yours truly. You see, I won’t lie still on my Hopen while our Scandinavian sisters attempt to infiltrate our preoccupied minds and unoccupied homes with a scheme more indecipherable than the closing scenes to Fanny & Alexander.

Simply put, IKEA sells polished, unassembled pieces of timber in a three-color selection to unsuspecting consumers, who are intoxicatingly drawn to the final product painstakingly displayed in the model showrooms. After passing through every replicated room representing the ideal American living space, the consumer then attempts recreation by stacking a cart full of these bundled woodpiles packaged with rudimentary drawings pertaining to proper assemblage, while assuming this cardboard container of furniture-to-be has all the necessary brackets, screws, planks, etc. The consumer is frustrated once they travel back to the city from the suburban franchise and unload the bundle of unassembled logs only to notice one necessary portion is missing or damaged. And in the infrequent case of complete representation, the proud new owner of Swedish kindling now has to find a couple hours in their day to piece together their recent acquisition. It is this notion, which only creeps into the consumer’s conscience in this final moment, where my entrepreneurial plan flourishes.

I wish nothing more than to assist the workingman’s impatient desire for manufacturing superiority, and that is why I will aid their consumption in any humanly possible manner. Don’t over-think this one my fellow man, just give ol’ Steve a ring and I will pause everything I may be doing to assist you at any time, on any day…end of story. Why? Simple. Because I am passionate about maintaining IKEA’s integrity, and will stop at nothing to make sure you continue to invest in the global economy with a pearly white smile. If you have misplaced the cap to your kettle and long for a cup of tea, I will disembark the departing commuter train in order to head back to my automobile in Baltimore with every intention to drive out to the nearest suburban outlet and find you a replacement. No sweat at all. I live for the adrenaline rush I receive for this selfless act, and may even provide the first service pro-bono. Also, if you don’t want to assemble your new Alang after the hardship of a trying workday, and simply wish instead to rest in your Poang and delve into your fascinating Tom Clancy spy novel. Who could blame you? Not me. I certainly want you to be able to have your cake and eat it too, and that is why I have zero complaints about cutting the finale of a film I’m watching with my girlfriend a little short, so that you can enjoy this slice of red velvet. I will be there in a flash and hope to have the light bulb screwed into its place by the time you thumb through another tantalizing page. And there are a million other possible scenarios that could play out where you may need some assistance, which I would be obliged to provide for a cost comparable to the coinage you may discover under the padding of your Grankulla.

It is with this devotion that I ask everyone, with a similar desire to obtain the disappearing American Dream, to place an advertisement in that weekend newspaper, develop a promotional weblog, or thumbtack a note on the corkboard of your neighborhood community center alerting the overworked of our plan to aid their plight and end the struggle of those suits on Wall Street. Once you have accomplished this act of awareness with a simple message, rest your own fatigued bones, for you have more than done your part. Now simply wait for the deluge of phone calls inviting your expertise and devotion to this superior product. “Make Yourself Comfortable.”

Saturday, January 5, 2008

New Year Resolutions.

Now that another year has closed and we reminisce about things in our lives from 2007 that we would like to forget, I would like to propose a list of three items/ideas that pop culture should eliminate for 2008. All of the following items have become excessive, annoying, and debilitating towards humanity’s hopeful progression, and should be purged and burned without hesitation for sentiment or fond recollection. No remorse or time for such behavior, for if these items/ideas do not vanish now that the ball has dropped in Times Square, the consequences of their existence upon society may endure even longer than the consequences you are personally enduring from insisting on a stranger’s kiss after a mind loaded with cheap champagne.

The Butterscotch Scarf
Who did this? Was it the GAP, Nordstrom, or some greater manufacturing whore? Nobody can be sure, but if I see the plaid patterned layering of yellow, orange, and white with thin red and black lines winding around someone’s woolen neck-cover in the coming year, heads are going to fucking roll. This garment seems to adorn the nape of every high school prep, wallflower business yuppie, and fallen fashionista in a blustery climate from late-October until mid-March. Someone has to be found responsible for presenting a piece of fabric to society that is unable to serve as a complimenting counterpart to any article of clothing; not even, your father’s camel-skin bomber with a brown corduroy collar matches this eyesore. So I ask upright members of society to grab and pull each end of the butterscotch scarf, if it is found around someone’s windpipes in 2008. Sweet release will ensue, and progression will applaud.

Dancing with the Stars
Oh my fucking God! When did viewing unheralded E-List celebrities waltz and samba on our television sets become the one commonality every human being’s existence shares? I refuse to have lunch with my co-workers during the fall months when this television show airs, for fear that I may have to subject my mind to the idea of them all watching Master P stumble over his size thirteens to the brass blares of a twelve-piece band, and having the sense to pick up their touchtone phones to pay three dollars to ‘cast a vote’ that will move him into the quarterfinals to face the ever-competent brother of an obscure member of Maroon 5. Oh my fucking God! I ask anyone who encounters a supporter of such vile trash to immediately discredit their reputation and dignity; only your favorite family members are allowed sparing to the societal exile you must cast.

Wolfgang Puck
The other night I am shopping for a frozen pizza to cook at the abode and what do I see, but the pastry face of this incompetent, womanizing fool of fortune trying to sell me an eight dollar pie, which is equivalent to one single serving. Puck you! I accepted your face invading the canned soup aisle, and only grimaced when I first noted your name slapped on the marquee of restaurants in seemingly every airport. But now you are trying to “Eat Love Live” in the frozen food aisle at the Safeway in Charles Village. Go away! Nobody should justify paying this amount for a cheese pizza, unless seven of the dollars go towards some undermining fund that supports George Foreman’s desire to develop an affordable rival to your ninety dollar rice cooker. Wolfgang, it’s one-part grain and two-parts H2O, you rapacious knockoff.