Monday, December 15, 2003

Snow in the City

So, I reflect on a Sunday afternoon in NYC. After settling back into a pattern of visiting with friends, staying out late at night, and sleeping until noon, Sunday arrived - a day of rest in the city. After all the work and play that consumes all days (and nights and hours), it is Sunday when NYC breathes slightly, pauses for a moment, and ever so slightly reaches inward before it lurches quickly back into form. I enjoyed the afternoon sitting on the second floor of a deserted deli, reading the New York Times, and watching the snow coat the street below.
It was peaceful, with christmas songs crackling distantly, old and new, from some radio transmitting some local station. The moment floated into subconsciousness with the sight of white snow and the sound of holiday chimes, and the clean, cool slate of winter descending upon Manhattan - with a New York Times at hand. The moment drifted into memory like the snow in the city.

Friday, December 12, 2003

Back in NYC

A crisp winter day. The leaves are now gone, trees and city stripped bare to reveal concrete and pavement everywhere. I am slowly gaining the pace again of an old friend city that I left several months ago. Back in NYC, and I am smiling.
There are so many interesting places in the world to visit, and I am remiss to linger in a few spots that strike my fancy. The US finds me now, even though I might prefer an European country in the south, foreign tongues more familiar from a past spent in Latin countries. Yet, even with my preferences and languid pursuit of new destinations, New York draws me back like a yo-yo slings taut on its string. As far as I seem to fling myself away from this city (my first taste coming in the winter of 2001), somehow I find myself back in NYC again and again.
I left the last time in October, but my departure was more affecting; I felt then that I had moved away from the city, a phase of my life ending like a thunderstorm. I was strangely desolate and drifting, after learning to live deeply in the city. There are so many people and aggravations here, it is true, but it is brilliant beyond all things. I reflect on the words that I have written previously about my days in NYC, and I realize that its inspiration has clutched me like so many others before me. NYC has a familiar way of attracting people to its vitality, so I am back in NYC. And I feel NYC back in me.

Tuesday, December 09, 2003

Finding Comfort

Comfort cannot find me now
Across different states that have no boundary
To the spirit of a country which prowls
Commercial life and constant industry.
Prosperity cannot chase the feeling
Ebullient that work is proper, free,
Normal, strangely healing,
Human ambition to be
Bought and sold with coins and bills,
Other barter, steel, cars, and pills,
Stocks and flows, bonds and escrows -
All to bring comfort near,
Scant that I may have found here.
Cattle ranch and open prairie roam,
This state of wander is not home
To the spirit of other fates,
Perhaps other ancestors of days past,
Toting belongings in boxes and crates
Across seas, yearning gold pavement, fast
Approach another world full of all things -
Prosperity, hope, opportunity
Of a life open again to bring
These things respectfully.
All grand things except comfort,
Elusive to the travelers who still dream -
I find myself searching still, support
Feelings of home where I go, where it may seem
Comfort can find me.

Friday, December 05, 2003

Quiet Friday

I am sitting in a room three floors up from the city streets, gazing at a steeple of an auditorium that looks like a church. The room is quiet, except the occasional hum of modern automobile engine noise slowing to a stop sign at the end of the street; it is Friday.
My weeks are uncoventional, typically piled like thick pancakes as days of the week. Monday through Thursday are long days - at least 10-12 hours per day of work activity, many times more based on the project activities - and then Friday comes at last. Friday is the day that I can sit in a room away from the office and be transported, whirring through "loose ends" of activities that I did not quite finish during the week, complete administrative forms, and generally decompress from a week too hurried to take stock of itself.
Sitting in a room three floors up from the city streets, gazing at a steeple of an auditorium that looks like a church, I am easing into peaceful reflection. It is quiet, it is Friday.

Thursday, December 04, 2003

Some days exciting

I don't know what it is, really. It could be the fact that it is Thursday. Or the seemingly fast approaching holiday. Or the wandering thought of positive life changes and a move. Or a strong cup of coffee in the morning. Or the sense of accomplishment that is imminent with one last push of work effort. Or the anticipation of a shopping trip with my mother as excuse for lunch break.
There are so many factors that influence our feelings (and subsequently, our actions and behaviors), that it is difficult to say what really "makes us tick" on a day-to-day basis. All I know is that today, I am feeling quite productive and energetic, hard to believe when all I have to give are the fumes of a week burnt at both ends. But it is the hope that counts, and feeling that some days are more exciting than others.

Wednesday, December 03, 2003

Charge to Work

Fatigue has nothing to offer today, as I make huge strides to hurdle the obstacles of inane document creation and stacked "action items" for "follow-up". The world of business is incoherent and strange, in all its jingles and jargon, bobbles of frizzy words that mean nothing, piled high in so many meetings. "Let's take this offline", "we have to be pro-active", "it's like nailing jello to a tree", "there are synergies here", "this is scheduled for deployment next week", "are there any change requests?", "bingo!". Bingo???
I've put them all aside, my drawer of dawdling, and look to get things done in real language. I just want to leave the office today without carrying these thoughts inside my head. I have a charge to work and go home empty of this work, refreshed and clean of such nonsense.

Monday, December 01, 2003

December in Chicago

The sun wanders like a lazy eye across the sky. The wind is blowing hard as steel, abrasive to the skin as steel wool scraping the cheeks. It is Chicago, winter is coming quick, and the evening waits impatient as the shadows consume full floors of the skyscrapers downtown. Pretty soon, darkness will eat the shadows, too, and the wind will threaten night’s prominence with its wheezing and squealing across the sky. Only not quite as indirect as the wandering sun.
I ponder these things from seven stories up, looking out across the Chicago River and letting my sightline be distracted by the Wrigley Building and the yellow "Chicago Sun - Times" sign pointing at the white tower and gothic connecting bridge of that landmark set of buildings on Michigan Avenue. At least, it is warm inside my office. At least, it is not yet winter.
But soon, snow will brush between these buildings, pushed around by the vicious winds, and Chicagoans will bundle themselves in heaps of coats and scarves and snug hats and gloves. I can see it coming, as I stay for just a week at this office, mesmerized by the whipping flag that sorely flaps at the corner of Michigan Avenue that I can see, on top of one of the Wrigley buildings. Perhaps, I reconsider, winter has already come.
December in Chicago holds reminder of many colder days to come and the hybernation of a city that retreats into buildings.