Archive for the ‘Life in Transit’ category

Little Things … or How I Got Turned On and Intimidated by Language

January 7, 2011

Life. In Transit.

I recently started reading a new book. It’s excellent. The Elegance of the Hedgehog, it’s called. You should read it.

Although I used to work in publishing and probably should, I won’t delve into what the book is about. I will say this: it’s philosophical and inspiring and superb and and and and the mastery of language and beauty of writing displayed throughout… breathtaking. It stirred up my loins a bit, her writing, and intimidated the hell out of me – no way could I ever master the written word like that.  Seriously, it has caused me to lose all ability to write and, even, to speak coherently, it seems. I now criticize even my thoughts for their lack of elegance.

image courtesy Columbia Pictures

Anyway, I had just finished a passage about how grammar is necessary because it allows one to deconstruct language into its bare parts, see it naked, as it were, and revel in the beauty of a well-crafted sentence (sounds odd or boring. it’s not.), when I arrived at my subway stop and had to stop (ha!) reading. My ipod was playing a dark and introspective Tom Waits song (aren’t they all?) and I couldn’t help but take note of his lyrics and turns of phrase. I appreciated the timing, for the song matched my mood and seemed to be the musical equivalent of a good piece of literature.

The song ended, leaving me feeling all wordsy and smart, when what should my ipod play me next? Rhianna’s Please Don’t Stop the Music. And I laughed, out loud, right there on the street, likely startling small children and little old ladies with my hysterics. Seriously, folks. Rhianna just came to party. But now they’re on the dance floor, acting naughty. Yay rhyming.

Ah, language. Gotta love it.



Stranger Excellence

November 15, 2010

Life. In Transit.

Last Friday started out like most Fridays: Force myself out of bed to make it out the door before 6:40 to catch the train and head to work.

I was actually in a fairly foul mood, despite it being Friday. I had to work quite late pretty much all week on a series of projects and really just did not want to get out of bed and commute for an hour and a half. You know how it is.

Anyway. I was walking from the subway to the commuter rail, and just as I was about to cross the street, an older woman walking towards me makes eye contact, stops, grabs my arm and, with an ear to ear grin, enthusiastically says, “Happy Friday!” She then patted my arm and continued on her way.

I was totally taken off guard at first because of the randomness of a stranger touching me at 7:08 on the sidewalk in Harlem, but once she smiled and said “Happy Friday,” my bad mood lifted, the skies parted and I wanted to run back and tell her THANKS! for making my Friday 100% better.

But I thought better of it. She looked a bit crazy and there’s a chance she was homeless. Either way, this was the exact opposite of stranger danger. It was stranger excellence!

I now look for her often during my morning commute, but haven’t seen her since. She probably would have been helpful that morning when we didn’t have hot water…

Happy Today!

Life, In Transit

July 12, 2010

It’s been an incredibly long time since we here at The Very Important Things have posted anything, and for that I apologize. It’s been busy and, unfortunately, TVIP has been the victim of my lack of free time.

One of the reasons for this newfound timelessness is my landing of a new job. With an hour and a half commute (I know what you’re thinking: there’s your free time right there, paul! – and you’d be right. So writing shall recommence.).

I’m also going to add a new repeating theme/section: Life, In Transit. LiT will document some random thoughts, sights, sounds, ramblings, events, etc  from my life, in transit.

Here’s the first go.

Life, In Transit.

Today, on the final leg of my end-of-the-day commute, as I trekked up the subway stairs at 96th street, I saw a man, presumably homeless, asleep on the stairs. His sole  possession, aside from the clothes on his back, was a sword – a katana, really – in a sheath, in a garbage bag.

No part of that was hyperbolic in the telling.

A homeless man, asleep on the stairs, with a sword in a garbage bag.

Several things came to mind when I saw this:
1) What the hell is a homeless guy doing with a sword??
2) I bet no other homeless people mess with this guy.
3) I kind of want to steal his sword.
4) That’s a REALLY stupid idea. That could go REALLY wrong.
5) I wonder if he’s a homeless ninja…
6) A homeless ninja would be a really awesome recurring character in a book/story/tv show/blog…
7) Bob, The Homeless Ninja. Harry, The Homeless Ninja. Brian, The Homeless Ninja…
8 ) Crimefighting homeless ninja?
9) Nah, just ass-kicking homeless ninja, maybe a little down on his luck
10) This recession has been especially hard on freelance ass kickory.
11) I wonder if ninjas have a union…
12) ad nauseum

I guess my point here is this: Beware sword-wielding homeless men.