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Sayanora? / Hello!

December 10th, 2007

I had plans for this blog, so many plans. But now, finally after two months of struggle, the crisis is over and the blog is safe from self-destruction.

The Last Quarter-Hour

September 11th, 2006

It was about a quarter to six in the morning, and the sunlight was already flooding the bedroom with its intense heat. Even though I had moved to Tucson two years earlier, I still hadn’t gotten over how early the sun rises when you don’t observe Daylight Savings Time. I was laying there in bed, listening to the radio, as I often did. A nice, slow wake-up to the gentle human-interest stories that typically fill the last quarter hour of NPR’s morning news program. Then, at the top of the hour, the morning’s hard news headlines begin, followed in five minutes with local headlines and the weather. Then, at about ten past the hour, I’m reluctantly ready to get up for coffee and slowly ease into another work day.

But that morning I was still laying in bed, savoring that last quarter-hour, letting the bright sunlight chase away the last vestiges of sleep, listening to some sort of human interest story. I don’t remember what it was about. It’s usually an art exhibition, an interview with an author, or maybe something frivolous, like some newly discovered recording of a long-forgotten Yiddish singer. It could be just about anything.

Like I said, I don’t remember the story, but I do remember the comfort of the morning routine. I’m not a morning person at all. So to get started on the day, I depend on a morning routing – no, a morning ritual because it is so sacrosanct to my well-being – to mentally and physically prepare myself for the demands of the day. Because I don’t necessarily do demands very well, the morning ritual sets the course of the day. And if any part of it is interrupted in any way – if the paper doesn’t arrive, if my trance-like meditation in the shower is interrupted, if I discover I’m out of coffee – it becomes a bad omen for everything that follows.

Like what happened at the end of that last quarter-hour. I was just laying there, half awake, half asleep, half listening to the human interest story that I have since forgotten — minding my own business as they say — trying to work up the energy to get up for another day at work. After the now-forgotten story finished, when they should have begun the next soft-news story to finish up the last quarter-hour, an announcer broke in to say they had just heard a report that an airplane had crashed into a tower of the World Trade Center. He said that the details were sketch and they’ll tell us more about it when they get more information.

I rolled over in bed. “That sucks,” I thought to myself, saying a prayer for the pilot and a couple of office workers who were probably killed by an errant Cessna. I wondered if maybe the pilot had a heart attack or something, or maybe it was like that Lear jet that killed a famous golfer I’d never heard of after it ran out of gas, having traveled across half the continent on autopilot.

I lay there thinking of these things, which is why I missed the last human-interest story for that last quarter-hour on NPR. This last quarter-hour, before the hard news resumed was my favorite part of the morning, and I never wanted it to end. But the remainder of that last quarter-hour slipped quietly away, as I tried to remember if there had been other instances of errant aircraft brushing against tall buildings. Meanwhile the sun was shining intensely, and the bedroom was starting to turn uncomfortably warm.

I often wished I could have that last quarter-hour back, not that there is anything I could have done to prevent what happened next. I would just like to have it back so I can savor the simplicity of that last quarter-hour.

But that last quarter-hour ended, never to return. The news at the top of the hour started, when suddenly about half-way through a different announcer came on and said that a second jet (this time he called it a jet or maybe an airliner, I don’t remember – definitely not an airplane) had struck the other World Trade Center tower.

Two jets were crashing into buildings. That’s no accident. I jumped out of bed, yelling to nobody, “We’re under attack!” I knew it then, before the announcers could tell me, even before I could run to the living room to turn on television.

It was just after six in the morning; the day was about to begin. The last quarter hour was over.

Succulent

July 29th, 2006

It rained last night. The lightning and thunder started at about five in the morning, and it continued with a very nice gentle soaking rain through the early morning hours.

Big deal, you say? We wait months for you to start writing again and all you give us a weather report, you say?

Well, I’m afraid you just don’t understand. It’s very rare to rain overnight here in the Sonoran desert. Well, it’s actually very rare for it to rain at all, but this is our rainy season, and we celebrate rain the way people in double-wides celebrate the lottery.

Gentle soaking rains are the rarest of all. It’s either a flash flood or nothing, feast or famime, and when the rains do come they almost always pass in thirty minutes tops. Like bad sex, just when you start to enjoy it, it’s over. But not this time.

Overnight and early morning rain, long gentle soaking rain, this was all very common where I grew up, and I took it for granted. But because it is so exeedingly rare here, we celebrated by getting up, throwing open the windows and going back to bed. And we pampered ourselves by dozing through the smells and the sounds of gently falling rain. We consumed the sensuous essences of rain like Roman patricians at a banquet. Sweet, glorious rain, sweet like the finest wines.

I ususally don’t remember dreams very well, but dozing in and out to the sound of rain was very conducive to remembering snippets of dreams. I’ve read from famous people that dreams help them figure out what to do in life. I’ve learned from my dreams that my dreams have a lot of figuring out to do.

According to my dreams, the guy in the rum commercial who is mixing mojitos while the whole world dances, he may smile nicely, but he treats his coworkers like dirt.

According to my dreams, all the beautiful young men and women are dressed in beautiful white pressed linens. I look down and I’m wear stripes and plaid. I’d almost rather be in those other dreams where I look down and I’m naked.

According to my dreams, when you try to go back and video-edit out those things that happened at work a few days ago, it’s a lot harder to do than you’d think.

But I did learn that rain is not a simple utilitarian gesture by the gods to keep plants alive, like a cosmic sprinkler. It nourishes the plants and gives them a greater shade of green, but it nourishes our spirit too. If you could see the color of my spirit this morning, you’d see that it’s a bit brighter and less withered than it was yesterday. Rain rejuvinates in a way that mere watering cannot.

Because when it come right down to it, it’s really not about the water; it’s all about the rain.

Venti! Venti! Venti!

July 18th, 2006

It’s hot. Crazy hot.

One hundred degrees is just the beginning. Try 110. I’m driving around town running errands, my throat is parched, and I really need to stop for something cold to drink.

There’s a Starbucks. My mind latches onto the image: ice tea (regular! None of that flavored peach/mango junk for me) — yes, that will do the trick.

“What will you have?”

“A nice, cold, tall glass of iced tea,” says I in eager expectation of great quantities of tea parching my Sonoran desert thirst.

Five minutes later, this tiny cup of tea has my name on it.  Then it hits me:

Tall = Small, in Starbuckese.

I hate Starbucks.

Haiku

June 8th, 2006

“Where the hell are you?”
Sam yells in his haiku voice
There’s no good answer.

I think to myself,
I really should do something
to revive this thing.

But it needs to change.
Everything old must be cleansed;
Then I will return.

Designing takes time.
New surroundings reward us.
Patience, my dear Sam.


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