A Snow Storm of the Mind

I give yesterday’s snow storm in New York City a B-. B for Boring. B for “Best ya got?” B for over-promising and under-delivering by a whole foot.

I would give it a C, but it did have enough bluster to shut the place down, giving most people the day off, and that’s one of a snow storm’s most important jobs. So give it a B, for getting it done but leaving us with the nagging feeling that we probably could have gotten out and done all we were supposed to do yesterday if we had a little pluck, and a Minus for being unpleasantly full of hail charging horizontally.

IMG_2155I love snow days and don’t entirely trust anyone who doesn’t. Time slows down, and lists of things to do get radically re-written on the backs of envelopes, if not completely ignored. I look forward to them like a 9-year-old. The storm that was supposed to come last week, I gave a D. D for disappointing. D for Durham, because that’s what I’m told winter is like in North Carolina, and yesterday’s storm was going to redeem our disappointment.

I know it’s March, and we should take what we can get, but I fear for our local climate, that it’s becoming boringly more mid-Atlantic on account of global warming. (I know, it’s indulgent to talk about this when there are real climate refugees already, but the mind needs to wander.)

We are Yankees, after all, and that’s part of our identity: We endure winters, and a part of that endurance is the suspension of ambition. On snow days inward reflection becomes the norm, and if it’s not making soup or shoveling the path from the door to the street, then whatever you intend to do can probably wait.

It turns out, the National Weather Service had a notion that the snow wouldn’t add up, but kept its prediction of 12 to 20 inches in place, they say, to keep people alert to the dangers of wind and ice, which got pretty serious last night. They didn’t even need that good of a reason, in my book. Snow days are mass mental health days, and we had to have at least one this winter, didn’t we?

O Canada!

May 7, 2016. How did I get a Bachelor of Arts from an accredited university, and spend years calling myself a writer, and today is the first time I’ve ever read Whitman’s Song of the Broad-Axe?

I turned to it, because of some photos I saw of the fires in Alberta.


“Muscle and pluck forever!
What invigorates life, invigorates death,
And the dead advance as much as the living advance,
And the future is no more uncertain than the present,
And the roughness of the earth and of man encloses as much as the delicatesse of the earth and of man,
And nothing endures but personal qualities.
What do you think endures?
Do you think the great city endures?
Or a teeming manufacturing state? or a prepared constitution? or the best-built steamships?
Or hotels of granite and iron? or any chef-d’oeuvres of engineering, forts, armaments?

“Away! These are not to be cherish’d for themselves;
They fill their hour, the dancers dance, the musicians play for them;
The show passes, all does well enough of course,
All does very well till one flash of defiance.”

Soon, friends, I’ll finish a long post about Gordon Lightfoot, the builder of the Erie Canal, and environmentalism. (I know you DeWitt Clinton fans are on the edge of your seats.) I get up to write it today, and what do I see in the news? A whole Canadian region whose economy is extracting oil from tar, going up in flames. It takes a Whitman to stay positive in times like these, and I don’t mean a box of chocolates.

Fort mac.jpg


The Christmas of Star Wars

Lucky for me, there’s a still a crumbling half o’ panettone on top of my fridge. Now that our birdbath is frozen, it finally feels like Christmas.

Winter finally hits...our birdbath. 1/11/16.

Winter finally hits…our birdbath. 1/11/15

Star Wars? Didn’t see it. I know, it’s basic film and pop culture literacy I’m ignoring – I had to have several of my nieces’ and nephews’ jokes explained to me at Christmas.

I saw the first Star Wars at the Directors Chair Cinema in Hamilton Square, New Jersey, one of the few times I ever went out to the movies with my father and brothers. We were dazzled, though I distinctly remember my mother, afterwards, asking how it was, and my father saying, “It was just like every cowboy movie I’ve ever seen.”

Maybe this is what made me skeptical, but I definitely regarded the kids who fell hard for the trivia and collectible action figures as dupes of commercialism, before I could tell you what commercialism is. After The Empire Strikes Back, I was done with it all. Ewoks, I only know about through the collective unconscious. The ’90s prequels, I never bothered with, even when friends pleaded with me that one or the other was “not that bad,” or that they were worthwhile on TV.

I woke up Christmas morning, looked up some showtimes for The Hateful Eight, and opted to watch The Sound of Music at home. It was my first time ever, though it’s undoubtedly something I would have seen back in my Star Wars days if I had one single sister. The Sound of Music (screenplay by Ernest Lehman, based on the stage musical book by Howard Lindsay and Russell Crouse, based on Die Trapp-Familie, written by George Hurdalek.) was for a while the highest-grossing film of all time. The puppet scene in that movie is about all the special effects I ever want to see:

Christmas Eve, 2015.

Christmas Eve, 2015.


Still, the milestone of another year passing does make natural born procrastinators like me want to hunker down. This past month I got through a first draft of a business plan for a venture I want to start in 2017. Aside from that, all the writing I got done was this couplet:

“Christmas Eve, Two Zip Fifteen.

You seem to me like Halloween.”