When I was a kid in the suburbs, snow was what it is usually referred to: a blanket. It covered everything with one sweeping afghan of white, torn only at a few seams by brave tire tracks or puckered by children’s footprints. One could stand anywhere and enjoy the uninterrupted snowy expanse.
But in the city, snow is much more sinister, though no less beautiful. Rather than gently drape across the knobby city, it pours into it, like a milkshake. It seeps into storefronts and stains the avenues. It congeals on fire escapes and makes the sidewalks sticky. No crevice is safe. But there is no unity to be found. No panoptic puff. No coverlet of cohesion. It doesn’t hold together like the suburban comforter; It clumps and drips and spreads and sticks with haphazard distribution. It infiltrates like only a spilled sugary beverage can. 
And that, my friends, is why snow in the city is a childish delight even for adults.  

When I was a kid in the suburbs, snow was what it is usually referred to: a blanket. It covered everything with one sweeping afghan of white, torn only at a few seams by brave tire tracks or puckered by children’s footprints. One could stand anywhere and enjoy the uninterrupted snowy expanse.

But in the city, snow is much more sinister, though no less beautiful. Rather than gently drape across the knobby city, it pours into it, like a milkshake. It seeps into storefronts and stains the avenues. It congeals on fire escapes and makes the sidewalks sticky. No crevice is safe. But there is no unity to be found. No panoptic puff. No coverlet of cohesion. It doesn’t hold together like the suburban comforter; It clumps and drips and spreads and sticks with haphazard distribution. It infiltrates like only a spilled sugary beverage can. 

And that, my friends, is why snow in the city is a childish delight even for adults.  

posted : Thursday, January 27th, 2011

tags :

As Audrey leaned out over the city, her wiry body seemed to meld with the devious design of the wrought iron balcony.  She was looking for God. 
Yesterday, Audrey shaved her head.  She had lost a bet, with herself.  The agreement was simple: she could smoke one cigarette a day, no more.  But yesterday, after getting fired from Jack Straws, she smoked her second one that day, enjoyed it thoroughly, walked into the bathroom and came out with no hair.  
But things were going well for Audrey.  They were going well for her, even though she had lost God.  She lost him last week when she gave her lunch to a homeless man on S. Kimbark Avenue. He thanked her with a  “God bless you.”  When she impulsively replied, “God bless you too,” she lost him somewhere in the side streets of Chicago.  But even without him, she felt fine, just a little different. And now she was free to have as many cigarettes as she wanted. 

As Audrey leaned out over the city, her wiry body seemed to meld with the devious design of the wrought iron balcony.  She was looking for God. 

Yesterday, Audrey shaved her head.  She had lost a bet, with herself.  The agreement was simple: she could smoke one cigarette a day, no more.  But yesterday, after getting fired from Jack Straws, she smoked her second one that day, enjoyed it thoroughly, walked into the bathroom and came out with no hair. 

But things were going well for Audrey.  They were going well for her, even though she had lost God.  She lost him last week when she gave her lunch to a homeless man on S. Kimbark Avenue. He thanked her with a  “God bless you.”  When she impulsively replied, “God bless you too,” she lost him somewhere in the side streets of Chicago.  But even without him, she felt fine, just a little different. And now she was free to have as many cigarettes as she wanted. 

posted : Wednesday, January 26th, 2011

tags : fiction

*A Christmas Hymn*

 

Lord child come down.

Creation has bowed.

Unfasten time and place, our law, our love.

Occupy, violate, tear our rank.

 

Limb of splendor, sprig,

Rise from David’s timber.

Carve a manger in our hearts, hard as wood.

Be our hope. Haunt our home with your posture.

 

Be our hope. Haunt our home. Come savior, magnify our world!

Stay awake! Incline our gaze! the light has come! Glorify His name!

 

(Music: Angelo Spagnolo / Lyrics: Kristen Scharold)

posted : Tuesday, December 21st, 2010

tags : music christmas

Eerily your love sustains our blood embers that burn without a kindle.

We are ash in the blaze of grace.

*

You redeem clichés that hang on our lashes, they are rags in need of wringing.

We are dew drying in your glow.

*

Be glad! Hallelujah!

I AM Guiding as a fire, burning the hearts that slumber. 

Hallelujah!

*

With your wick advise our light. Inspire our tapers so soon evaporating.

We are smoke enflamed by love.

*

Speak your flame into our hearts that frost like angel snows with bitter trembling

We are cold hanging on your breath.

*

(Music: Angelo Spagnolo / Lyrics: Kristen Scharold)

posted : Tuesday, December 14th, 2010

tags : music

 
Glenna always looked older than she was.  She was curling her blonde hair in a manner that made her look even older, and she knew it.  She had extra curlers in because tonight she and her girlfriends, Betty, Jane, and Terry, were going to the theater in Clifton and afterwards they hoped to get their first taste of a real beer, and have it paid for. 
This was their ritual every Friday night, but they had yet to find the right bar or the right men. Still, each week they put on their dark red lipstick, stuffed tissues down their shirts and rode their bikes to the movies.
The four girls parked their bikes in the lot behind Woolworth’s by the dumpster.  Then as quickly as they could in heels, they skipped down the street to the box office. 

Glenna always looked older than she was.  She was curling her blonde hair in a manner that made her look even older, and she knew it.  She had extra curlers in because tonight she and her girlfriends, Betty, Jane, and Terry, were going to the theater in Clifton and afterwards they hoped to get their first taste of a real beer, and have it paid for. 

This was their ritual every Friday night, but they had yet to find the right bar or the right men. Still, each week they put on their dark red lipstick, stuffed tissues down their shirts and rode their bikes to the movies.

The four girls parked their bikes in the lot behind Woolworth’s by the dumpster.  Then as quickly as they could in heels, they skipped down the street to the box office. 

posted : Friday, November 12th, 2010

tags : fiction

Maxine walked around the block again. Her umbrella hung on her arm and her bare feet squeaked inside her shoes. Two hours ago she had gone to drop off a roll of film and it was still in her pocket. In her other pocket, she jingled some change.
Since moving to this far-flung corner of Brooklyn, Maxine had never strayed from her route to the subway station. She rarely left the apartment at all. Her husband Thomas ran all their errands—he didn’t want them to distract her from practicing. Her music was why they left Manhattan. By moving to Bay Ridge and distancing themselves from the aggression of the city, Thomas had assured her that they would both feel renewed. But little had changed. Thomas quit laying out his clothes the night before and Maxine got glasses.  Otherwise their life was the same, strained and thin. 

Maxine walked around the block again. Her umbrella hung on her arm and her bare feet squeaked inside her shoes. Two hours ago she had gone to drop off a roll of film and it was still in her pocket. In her other pocket, she jingled some change.

Since moving to this far-flung corner of Brooklyn, Maxine had never strayed from her route to the subway station. She rarely left the apartment at all. Her husband Thomas ran all their errands—he didn’t want them to distract her from practicing. Her music was why they left Manhattan. By moving to Bay Ridge and distancing themselves from the aggression of the city, Thomas had assured her that they would both feel renewed. But little had changed. Thomas quit laying out his clothes the night before and Maxine got glasses.  Otherwise their life was the same, strained and thin. 

posted : Wednesday, November 3rd, 2010

tags : fiction

It’s like there are magnets in our hands. It’s magical. As I walk the little girl home, all I must do is lightly loosen my hand beside my thigh—making not a sound, not a noticeable gesture—and instantly, her hand is drawn into mine. With something as slight as a thought, her palm meets my palm, and I’m greeted with the sweet feeling of a little hand connecting with mine, like two magnets finding each other in this big city.

It’s like there are magnets in our hands. It’s magical. As I walk the little girl home, all I must do is lightly loosen my hand beside my thigh—making not a sound, not a noticeable gesture—and instantly, her hand is drawn into mine. With something as slight as a thought, her palm meets my palm, and I’m greeted with the sweet feeling of a little hand connecting with mine, like two magnets finding each other in this big city.

posted : Thursday, September 30th, 2010

tags :

In Sonnets From the Portuguese, Elizabeth Barrett Browning sings: “Say over again, and yet once over again,/ …Cry ‘Speak once more – thou lovest!…/ …toll the silver iterance!”
For Browning, love is more than a thought or emotion, it is a vocal declaration. She insists that unless one can express their love via language, it is an unrecognizable “mystic Shape.” One must vocalize love to know love and feel its intimacy.
Thus, Browning stresses the necessity of knowing love through words, because words lead to a concrete knowledge, which prevents abstraction and abeyance. “But I look on thee  – on thee  – / Beholding, besides love, the end of love,/ Hearing oblivion beyond memory.” A mere thought or vision leads one to oblivion. 
“I think of thee! – my thoughts do twine and bud/ About thee, as wild vines, about a tree/…I will not have my thoughts instead of thee/Who are dearer, better! Rather instantly/ Renew thy presence; as a strong tree should/Rustle thy bough and set they trunk all bare…” Mere thoughts can tangle our affections and conceal the object of our love. 
Vocal declaration of love is often natural, except when it matters most. Eating a delicious meal, we sing its praises. After reading an enjoyable book, we close its cover to go tell others about it. But sometimes we forget to tell those closest to us that we love them. And even more, when it comes to a love that Augustine declares in his Confessions—“Late have I loved thee, Beauty so ancient and so new, late have I loved thee!”—we are not in the habit of rapturously declaring our love for the Divine. Just as Protestants have lost a tradition of confession—vocally numerating our sins—we have not cultivated a practice of impulsive vocalization of the flip side of confession: praise. Rather, we love God in our hearts, but he still feels distant and abstract.  And until we numerate all the ways we love him, I suspect he might never feel intimately close.

In Sonnets From the Portuguese, Elizabeth Barrett Browning sings: “Say over again, and yet once over again,/ …Cry ‘Speak once more – thou lovest!…/ …toll the silver iterance!”

For Browning, love is more than a thought or emotion, it is a vocal declaration. She insists that unless one can express their love via language, it is an unrecognizable “mystic Shape.” One must vocalize love to know love and feel its intimacy.

Thus, Browning stresses the necessity of knowing love through words, because words lead to a concrete knowledge, which prevents abstraction and abeyance. “But I look on thee  – on thee  – / Beholding, besides love, the end of love,/ Hearing oblivion beyond memory.” A mere thought or vision leads one to oblivion.

“I think of thee! – my thoughts do twine and bud/ About thee, as wild vines, about a tree/…I will not have my thoughts instead of thee/Who are dearer, better! Rather instantly/ Renew thy presence; as a strong tree should/Rustle thy bough and set they trunk all bare…” Mere thoughts can tangle our affections and conceal the object of our love.

Vocal declaration of love is often natural, except when it matters most. Eating a delicious meal, we sing its praises. After reading an enjoyable book, we close its cover to go tell others about it. But sometimes we forget to tell those closest to us that we love them. And even more, when it comes to a love that Augustine declares in his Confessions—“Late have I loved thee, Beauty so ancient and so new, late have I loved thee!”—we are not in the habit of rapturously declaring our love for the Divine. Just as Protestants have lost a tradition of confession—vocally numerating our sins—we have not cultivated a practice of impulsive vocalization of the flip side of confession: praise. Rather, we love God in our hearts, but he still feels distant and abstract.  And until we numerate all the ways we love him, I suspect he might never feel intimately close.

posted : Monday, September 13th, 2010

tags :

When a door opens, it is a privilege. When it is the front door to some dear friends’ apartment, it is a gift.
I’m spending the week at the home of some old friends, newly wed, in Chicago. It is a reminder of blessed hospitality.
At its best, hospitality is not just cleaning the house, cooking some food, or clearing a place to sleep; it is arranging one’s life so that another can partake in it. It is sharing of the utmost. 
Sharing is to hospitality what beans are to a cup of coffee. By sharing their time, food, space, conversations with me—small, albeit potent, things when picked out individually—they are creating a much larger, more beautiful, effect of generosity and fellowship. They are not just giving me little pieces here and there of themselves but allowing me to taste and smell the sweet aroma that is their life.
And so walking through a door into a charming, vintage abode is one thing. But being asked to stay and then given a warm cup of coffee—with whip cream!—and a cozy place to sleep? Well that is what these friends do.  

When a door opens, it is a privilege. When it is the front door to some dear friends’ apartment, it is a gift.

I’m spending the week at the home of some old friends, newly wed, in Chicago. It is a reminder of blessed hospitality.

At its best, hospitality is not just cleaning the house, cooking some food, or clearing a place to sleep; it is arranging one’s life so that another can partake in it. It is sharing of the utmost.

Sharing is to hospitality what beans are to a cup of coffee. By sharing their time, food, space, conversations with me—small, albeit potent, things when picked out individually—they are creating a much larger, more beautiful, effect of generosity and fellowship. They are not just giving me little pieces here and there of themselves but allowing me to taste and smell the sweet aroma that is their life.

And so walking through a door into a charming, vintage abode is one thing. But being asked to stay and then given a warm cup of coffee—with whip cream!—and a cozy place to sleep? Well that is what these friends do.  

posted : Friday, September 3rd, 2010

tags :

“I wonder what’s happening?” I commented.
The seven-year-old looked at me, eyes wide with confusion. “Huh?”
“All the sirens. I wonder what’s happening.”
“What sirens?”
I stared at the child. Then looked out the window from the 26th floor down onto 3rd avenue where a parade of flashing lights was shrieking. Then back at her. 
She had lived in this apartment for so long that she had managed to not only tune out the city’s typical noises of honking and hustling, but also even the most abrasive sounds, ones that I for one was having a very hard time ignoring.
Now it’s a known fact that New Yorkers adjust to sounds, and many can’t sleep if it’s too quiet. For example, my own apartment overlooks a highway, which now doesn’t even phase me. We evolve according to our soundscapes.
So when I looked back the girl, I was less caught off guard by her inability to hear sirens than by the striking realization that she has lived her entire life in this city. 
I don’t know if I will ever be able to get my head around children raised in New York, and so this might be the first of many posts that are written in an attempt to process an affluent, urban childhood.

“I wonder what’s happening?” I commented.

The seven-year-old looked at me, eyes wide with confusion. “Huh?”

“All the sirens. I wonder what’s happening.”

“What sirens?”

I stared at the child. Then looked out the window from the 26th floor down onto 3rd avenue where a parade of flashing lights was shrieking. Then back at her.

She had lived in this apartment for so long that she had managed to not only tune out the city’s typical noises of honking and hustling, but also even the most abrasive sounds, ones that I for one was having a very hard time ignoring.

Now it’s a known fact that New Yorkers adjust to sounds, and many can’t sleep if it’s too quiet. For example, my own apartment overlooks a highway, which now doesn’t even phase me. We evolve according to our soundscapes.

So when I looked back the girl, I was less caught off guard by her inability to hear sirens than by the striking realization that she has lived her entire life in this city.

I don’t know if I will ever be able to get my head around children raised in New York, and so this might be the first of many posts that are written in an attempt to process an affluent, urban childhood.

posted : Wednesday, August 25th, 2010

tags :

The rules of the game were simple. You just couldn’t look. As long as you didn’t look, you might be able to win. But of course no one ever did.  Although there was the time when Eva  blinked. She blinked so hard she broke an eyelash. And that is when evening came.
If I remember correctly, Eva was sitting crisscrossed on the shore with her knees hovering over the foamy waves. She was wearing a linen sundress that was all white except for the cloth that billowed around her waist and sunk into the wet sand. The water was slowly rising up her dress as it absorbed more and more salt water, pulling a brown shadow past the embroidered waist. 
Eva had gone out to the beach with her grandma to look for conch shells, but now her grandma was dozing under the umbrella. Eva had been counting the waves for some time and had to periodically push herself back away from the rising tide. She knew her mother would be upset with her soiled dress, but when a wave crashed over her legs, getting even the top of dress wet, she figured it didn’t matter anymore, so she stood up. Then she ran into the sea.

The rules of the game were simple. You just couldn’t look. As long as you didn’t look, you might be able to win. But of course no one ever did.  Although there was the time when Eva  blinked. She blinked so hard she broke an eyelash. And that is when evening came.

If I remember correctly, Eva was sitting crisscrossed on the shore with her knees hovering over the foamy waves. She was wearing a linen sundress that was all white except for the cloth that billowed around her waist and sunk into the wet sand. The water was slowly rising up her dress as it absorbed more and more salt water, pulling a brown shadow past the embroidered waist.

Eva had gone out to the beach with her grandma to look for conch shells, but now her grandma was dozing under the umbrella. Eva had been counting the waves for some time and had to periodically push herself back away from the rising tide. She knew her mother would be upset with her soiled dress, but when a wave crashed over her legs, getting even the top of dress wet, she figured it didn’t matter anymore, so she stood up. Then she ran into the sea.

posted : Tuesday, August 24th, 2010

tags : fiction

Time is like toothpaste! What a discovery. 
For weeks, I’ve been trying to structure my time. I’ve tried color-coded calendars and ping-plated alarms, but still I would mosey through my days like a lark caught in limbo. 
But what was I thinking? I could access time by constructing a portal, laying appointments with schedules like toothpicks and elmer’s glue?
Time is not something that can be stacked and slated. It can only be squeezed. Like toothpaste, even if have I have a full tube of time, it’s nothing to me until pressure is applied. 
So I resolve to daily choke my time-duct from the bottom up. Then maybe at last I’ll taste the minty freshness of productivity.  
Now if I could just remember to floss.

Time is like toothpaste! What a discovery.

For weeks, I’ve been trying to structure my time. I’ve tried color-coded calendars and ping-plated alarms, but still I would mosey through my days like a lark caught in limbo.

But what was I thinking? I could access time by constructing a portal, laying appointments with schedules like toothpicks and elmer’s glue?

Time is not something that can be stacked and slated. It can only be squeezed. Like toothpaste, even if have I have a full tube of time, it’s nothing to me until pressure is applied.

So I resolve to daily choke my time-duct from the bottom up. Then maybe at last I’ll taste the minty freshness of productivity. 

Now if I could just remember to floss.

posted : Monday, August 23rd, 2010

tags :

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