grandfather clock

The grandfather clock yawns tall at seven feet. Handmade, antique. It’s been ticking and tocking for 84 years. The wood is a warm walnut, stained darker. The numbers, still dark as if they were just painted yesterday. Holding an ear to the heart of the beast, you can hear heart of it: beating and churning and creaking. On the hour it sounds, ringing and clanging loudly in a room filled with dusty, forgotten treasures; All from a time when silver platters and spoons were customary serving receptacles to a certain race and class, and if the only certainty of life is that people die, then that is confirmed; Their accumulated heirlooms sold, donated, or thrown away.

A child sits in a white bonnet at the foot of the grandfather clock. The hour is late and the child coos, abandoned, finding fascination with her hands. The clock keeps rhythm of the passing hour. Dust accumulates in the antique shop, which sits on the border between dream and nightmare. Depending on the war, its borders can change and will as it suits them, the dreamer. A silver moonbeam makes its way into a window, divided into four smaller squares. It reflects on the floor of the child. Who is she? How did she get here? She is unimpressed, and continually distracted by the realization of fingers and touch and teething. The temperature dips and the clock watches over the floor, wise and all-knowing.

The only enemy of this clock would be a swarm of termites, neglect, or both. But the termites hibernate, too cold to take action. The building creaks and moans in silence, no one there to hear it but this babe, floor-bound, now sprawled on her stomach, rolling over, laughing. The hands of the clock form a lopsided mustache, indicating the early morning hour. A truck engine starts and sputters.

compromise

You talk about compromise like it’s some stick in the mud, some wound to be wasted, infected with oozing pessimism. Compromise like a world awakened and gone back to sleep. Eyes open and shut like cases, like a bag shaken out. I am empty and that’s all that’s left of me. But I want to breathe and believe in something other than magic and happenstance; Something other than Disney fantasy because happily ever after only goes as far as the camera zooms out and fades to black with grand orchestra, sweeping strings, lovely ballads made from consonant upbringings. I’m not saying it’s all gotta be painful and bad, but the story never just ends there. And even if you die alone in Tom Riddle’s house, there was certainly one person you meant in which you inhibited some memory. Imagination stretching outward, dancing darlings come, become crimson in their cheekbones after a long workout. I’m talking about college dorm rooms in November or December; Fresh snowfall and roommates gone home for the weekend. I’m talking letterman jackets and homemade sweaters, fireplace, hot chocolate, lovers gaze under low light. Youthful magic becoming more distant. We are comets, we are meteors, drifting away from the beginnings of our timelines in zero gravity. We are Tom and B’Elanna in spacesuits stranded, but hopefully cradling one another. And if we have to compromise to be there, so be it. There is nothing admirable about gargantuanly taking up space.

Reflections on the Ida Floods

Today I drive down Harrison Street in the passenger seat (approaching Franklin Ave with Passaic Ave behind) and my heart breaks seeing the accumulation of ruined things placed curbside, house after house. Mattresses and lamps, furniture, black trash bags in heaps. You think you have it bad, but someone always has it worse. Driving through the intersection of Franklin and Harrison, having seen a photo or two of it severely flooded a few nights before, and my heart breaks for the businesses, likely already struggling due to COVID, the owners now having to deal with cleaning up what may in fact be the sole lifelines to their own livelihoods. I wonder if their homes have also been devastated as well.

I wasn’t out and about in the neighborhood to do a tour of the damage, but was coming home from the laundromat with my brother who was driving. We had made a pitstop, picking up a few bottles of Cherry Coke at 7-11; A rare, indulgent, but well-deserved treat for the both of us. We reminisced about the last time we drank a Cherry Coke; It had been awhile for both of us. The family washer and dryer and hot water heater are completely shot and non-functioning. More will be revealed, but it’s safe to say we’ll be without for a few weeks at least. Maybe longer…There certainly will be more laundromat trips in the meantime.

Many of our family’s things are also curbside, if they haven’t already been taken by the garbage truck that conveniently came the day after the rain. I won’t even begin to list but I mean: a trunk my mom bought with Nonna and my dad on Canal St in Chinatown, right before they were married. That sits curbside now. Soaked and ruined. My 88-key Suzuki piano from my childhood, unsalvageable toys, ruined pictures and papers turned paste, old school papers I was proud of, elementary school writings, American Idiot confetti that rained down from Giants Stadium that I gathered up and stuffed in my pockets from September 1, 2005, my wisdom teeth, as well as greeting cards from friends and family I had saved that meant something to me – Many from Nonna. I cried a lot when the water finally receded from the basement. Almost 2 feet total had accumulated when it was all said and done. “This is our lives!” I cried to my mom the day after, despondent and inconsolable. She had to throw out a wedding album she had given to Nonna; It had found its way back to us after she died. It was falling apart and impossible to save. And even though it wasn’t even my mom’s copy of the wedding album, I became emotional. Because it was Nonna’s copy. That was hers and now it’s in the trash.

I’m not here to lament. I mean, I’m devastated. And I’ve cried about it. But I’m trying not to get lost in the quicksand that is grief. Because I can get lost in it. I know myself well enough to know that. There’s this strange dichotomy and different levels of reality I currently find us all living in: The affected and the unaffected. And it’s…strange. Makes you feel a little bit like an alien walking through a slightly different dimension.

We are saving as many photographs as we can, the discs of our CD and DVD collections (tossing away the cases). We recovered my diplomas, but their cases are completely ruined. My mom has been trying so hard and painstakingly to save what she can. There are dropcloths throughout the first floor of our home to protect the wood flooring from water as we make the many trips up the stairs to take the wet things out and to the curb. This daily trek we now must make until there’s nothing left to remove. The dining room and kitchen tables are full of damp photographs drying out.

Tragedy and crisis are always strange. And even though this is personal and I feel incredibly affected by it, I do try and look at it with a birdseye view; Here is rebirth, here is cleansing, here is renewal, here is starting over fresh and clean. It doesn’t make it any easier, but…the thoughts are there under the surface. I will admit there is excitable family chatter about remodeling and finally making good on all those plans we had to better the basement, move things around, make the house better and nice.

And we can talk about global warming, better preparedness for next time, etc. We can go on a George Carlin-esque rant about “stuff” and “things”. We can play “coulda, woulda, shoulda” and spit regrets until the sun comes up five mornings over. But this happened. This is reality. It rained too much, too hard, too fast and our homes were overwhelmed. Tomorrow will not change cold hard facts. I am saddened by my own situation, as well as the situation of my community and neighbors. Overall, these two years have been insurmountably difficult and this event just feels like an added weight.

Approaching Franklin, I see the waterline, leaves and debris on a now ruined chainlink fence right before the stoplight, right after Ravine. CVS is home to three dumpsters now. I was just in there few days ago to get eyedrops and the manager helped me when the self-checkout froze. She was so nice and sweet. I told her this was my neighborhood CVS and she hoped I’d be back soon. I promised her I would.

Domestic Bliss / Pizza Bagel Records Clothesline Sessions | “Line Drive” – Roe Knows Best

Me performing “Line Drive”, a new song I wrote about being on the road and driving back home to your 1 tru luv ❤

blueberry pie

“Enjoy your day”, she said, departing the bakery with a white box in a white bag and a white dog in tow. The bell jangled on her way out the parking lot, where the parking lot teemed with cars; Cars belonging to people also going to bakeries, the back-to-school shopping, and picking up food for takeout. A strip mall on a weekend.

The drive back home is uneventful, this sweet delight in the front seat making the car smell buttery and delicious. A blueberry pie awaits inside, freshly made; Large granule cane sugar, caramelized, sits on top of the upper crust. There are little holes in the lattice, showcasing deep blue squares. The fruit cooks down to delicious gelatin once it’s heated and mixed with sugar. The way this must’ve bubbled in the oven. The anticipation of cutting a slice and cutting the tip with the side of your fork. Perfect with milk or coffee or tea. Food is medicine, even if all it does is cheer you up, or remind you of a memory with a lover and different pie.

What a strange thing to be alive and be human; To have blueberry pie be a thing. Knowing that perhaps there’s a parallel world out there where it’s not, where the blueberry plant did not survive evolution, or become extinct. Or maybe the dinosaurs ate them all. There always seems to be something festive about a pie. The sweet/tart explosion on taste buds and the smell of sugar and butter. Cinnamon and vanilla extract – which I recently saw a Barefoot Contessa video on how to make that fresh; Crazy, wild.

I am also partial to blueberry muffins and crisps and waffles and pancakes. Blueberries just taste so good with carbs. And are also great alone. I’ve been enjoying some with peach and yogurt and cereal lately. It’s like a morning time dessert.

Eyes wide as blueberry pies – That’s pretty wild (and wide). Going off what I need to know, marshaling, pooling my talents together, waiting for it to rain. Also recently saw an Instagram ad of a kind of handrake that combs through the branches of the blueberry tree(/bush?) and the berries fall into the bucket of this handrake. I had never seen anything like it before. Storebought, homemade.