Nonday

I’ve lived in my house for about five years. The town comes every Thursday to pick up yard waste and recyclables. I put my bins out religiously each Wednesday evening because I know the truck will be by early the next morning. So, of course, I put them out last night and woke up this morning expecting them to be thrown back on my lawn empty. Instead, they’re still out there waiting full. Several reasons scrawl across my brain before I realize it’s only Wednesday morning. For at least 16 hours or so, I had skipped one day of my life. At this point in my life, I’m grateful to regain a day, but I worry a little too. Maybe the porridge upstairs is getting a bit too soft.

I’m not working and I’m self-isolated. Time changes. It bends, quickens, and loops, but mostly it slows. How I spend my day now is completely different from how I spent it a month ago. I’ve come to think of these days as a pause on my life. Some twist of fate (maybe God to you) has hit the giant pause button in the sky and everything I know and do is waiting for the play button to be pressed. It’s not all bad, of course, if one sets aside all the illness and deaths. Parents are spending more time with their children; husbands and wives are getting reacquainted. Friends who have not communicated in decades are saying hello on Zoom.

As for me, I consider these days a test program for my retirement in the not too distant future. A retirement-lite, if you will. It didn’t take me long to figure out I needed to make some sort of schedule for myself. Meals needed to be made and eaten at certain times. I could not watch the 24 hour news channels 24 hours a day. I set aside a little time each morning to write. I take a long walk in the afternoon. The New York Times crossword eats an hour. I consider it exercise for the brain, to stave off its previously mentioned decline. On the debit side, I spend way too much time on social media. My liquor bottles whisper to me enticingly. I tell them to get behind me, Satan. I feel like I’m not keeping up my end of the social bargain. I’m taking, but not contributing. I miss my friends, my family, and even my job.

I texted a friend last week, Thank God it’s Friday. And she replied, What’s Friday? All the days are the same: Nonday!

True enough, but there are words to be written, music to be heard, sights to be seen. Yesterday, during my walk the grey clouds emptied and drenched me. I was cold, wet, a little depressed as I was still two miles from my house, but I looked up and saw a rainbow arcing across the sky. I could see both ends and that’s good luck. Enjoy your Nonday, folks.

#covid19 #coronavirus #unemployed

#middleaged #manspov

#middleageddating #lastfirstkiss #love #aging #autobiography #memories #writing #nyc

#nnj #northnewjersey #bergencounty

Tom Hanks, I Hardly Knew Ye

We had been hearing about the coronavirus for several weeks by March 11th. The lockdown of Wuhan was all over the news, but it was just background noise to be honest. There’s an adage in journalism which roughly says that one local murder is the equivalent of a dozen in Chicago and a thousand virus deaths in China or 10,000 starvations in Africa. I’m sure there are many reasons our empathy decreases the greater the distance, but for most people it’s a fact. So in February, I knew there was a virus out there, but it had little to no effect. By early March, the news was getting more dire and the virus was creeping closer. All this time, our President belittled the threat. Things took a turn on March 11th. Stocks were already turning downwards, but now they were in freefall. The President finally turned somber and told us things were much worse than he had been letting on. Tom Hanks announced he and his wife had caught the virus in Italy. And that’s when empathy kicks in, when someone you know gets it.

I don’t really know Tom Hanks obviously. However, I have been following his career since the first episode of Bosom Buddies, feel I discovered him, in fact, and in some ways you should all thank me for his omnipresence in your lives. I didn’t really know Rock Hudson or Freddie Mercury either, but they were the two men who put a face to AIDS for me. They become the trigger of realization that death stalks everyone in this world and he may want someone close to me or even me. There’s a lot of talk about age and preexisting conditions being major factors contributing to who succumbs to the disease, but we also hear about young, seemingly healthy people dying as well.

So on March 12th, I woke to a much different world than the one I fell asleep to. The St. Patrick’s Day parade was cancelled. Traffic into NYC was lighter than i had ever seen it. Supermarkets couldn’t keep the staples stocked. People started staying home; schools started closing. Social distancing became a thing. You rarely saw a person wearing a face mask or gloves in public, now most people do. My densely populated area of the world became the new epicenter for the disease. Medically speaking, we were caught unprepared. And we seemed slow in taking measures to slow the spread. I think we’re still two steps behind in how we’re dealing with it over here, a little ham-fisted in some aspects, a little light in others.

The damage is done in my region. Millions of people went from gainfully employed to jobless (including this writer). Food pantries can’t get enough donations to keep on the shelves. Tens of thousands of people have died, an inordinate amount in my area. Senior citizen homes have been especially hard hit. Nevertheless, we seem to be on the downslope of the curve now. There are calls to start reigniting the economy, by opening up the stores, restaurants, and workplaces. Optimism is on the rise once again. As of today, I only know one person who died of the disease and he wasn’t someone I knew well. I know two elderly folk who I think died indirectly. They were both cut off from their loved ones at care facilities and they both lost the will to live. I hope they’re resting easier now in whatever afterlife they pictured. As for me, I’m physically fit and mentally fraught, but looking forward to better days. Let the word be spread, Tom Hanks is still alive.

#tomhanks #covid19 #coronavirus #unemployed

#middleaged #manspov

#middleageddating #lastfirstkiss #love #aging #autobiography #memories #writing #nyc

#nnj #northnewjersey #bergencounty

A Digression Poetique

Ah, but a man’s reach should exceed his grasp,
Or what’s a heaven for?
Robert Browning, “Andrea del Sarto”

There have been two challenges this week to write poetry and I met them faulty pen in hand. I thought I might add my entries to my own blog as an extra post, as I think I’ve taken enough of your time this week. I love poetry. Give me pages of Browning, Dickinson and Yeats and I’m quite content. I spent a lot of time reading and trying to understand it during my undergraduate years. I’ve also tried to write it on occasion. I try to write with certain rules: the poem should rhyme and the rhyme should have a pattern. It should also have a certain amount of syllables per line. After these, it all becomes too complicated for my overtaxed brain.

I found the first challenge (actually, it’s a collaboration in which I was supposed to continue her first four lines) at https://lucysworkscom.home.blog/ and I was to write 4 lines on freedom. This is my entry:

Four rivers run through the garden of Eden,
With all God’s creations and man and his wife
Adam and Eve bite the apple forbidden
Are blessed in knowledge but cursed to this life

Challenge number two was from my friend Jules from the UK at her terrific blog, https://julessmith.co.uk. And her challenge was to write a Covid-19 inspired haiku. If I understand it correctly, the only rule of a haiku is it should have 5-7-5 syllables per line. Here’s mine:

My isolation

Reminds me I’m in need of

Some congregation

Allow me to finish with four poems I’ve previously posted in my own blog:

Clickety-clack

Forty years working and forty years late

I wanna follow Greeley’s direction west

Gonna stomp the grey dust off my boots

Uncinch this ol’ belt, give the tools a rest.

Lay my hard hat down for the rest of time

Wish my workmates enough wealth and good health

Proudly stride through one last construction gate

And put my faded union card on a shelf

Tomorrow I’m buying a first class ticket

On the transcontinental railroad train

Having never been past Pennsylvania

I wanna see the mountains and the plain

And sit in the bar car with a beer and a snack

Listening to them steel wheels go clickety-clack

Clickety-clack

The Rightest Wrong One

Of the many men she liked

She liked me the most

Not to say she liked me lots

Just a bit more than those

She looked to the east

When the sun set west

And said, I love you some

But could not love you any less

Of an evening, I’d go for a kiss

She’d turn and offer her cheek

But hug me so tight and warm

I thought maybe I could speak

Of love, but stood in hush’d confusion

As I was only the rightest wrong one

Perspective

Between you and me
We built such a high wall
To protect ourselves
From tempest and squall
I sat on my side, you on yours
Each alone in shadow and pall
And neither sought a way over
Twas insurmountable and tall
We rented hourly lawyers
And signed our inky scrawl
But now with time and distance
Our big differences look very small

A Walk After Mass

I drive home after a quiet mass

In a fine rain in the middle of June.

A man with only one leg jogs past;

The other leg made of titanium.

I make it home and grab an umbrella,

Before setting off on a walk of my own.

I lose myself thinking what kind of fella

Ends up on Father’s day so much alone.

All’s not entirely right around this place

Though the lawn’s kept trim and the house neat.

On my face, my worries leave their trace

And I wonder if I’ll rise above my defeat.

What a hard world, huh? What a world.

I wish I could be content watching it twirl.

#middleaged #manspov

#middleageddating #lastfirstkiss #love #aging

#poetry

#autobiography #memories #writing #nyc

Unemployment

When I was little, I admit I believed Santa kept a list of the naughty and nice. After Thanksgiving (4th Thursday in November), my Mom used this as a constant threat against digressions big and small right through Christmas Eve bedtime. “Santa knows who’s been naughty or nice,” she’d say menacingly. “Now, fuck off to bed.” Ok, I added the fuck, but I know she was thinking it in her exhausted mind. Afterall, she had five young children. In this time of Covid-19, we have a new list of the naughty and nice, but now we call them essential and unessential workers.

Turns out the essential workers are all those hard-working, sweat-on-the-brow types: nurses, doctors, teachers, grocery stockers, mechanics, infrastructure builders, truck drivers, etc. Often unappreciated and mostly underpaid, we realize in this new world, it’s really them that keep us spinning round right. Now, I’m not disparaging the banker, the lawyer, or the professional athlete, they have their uses, but let’s admit it, they’re on the naughty list for the time being. And I guess I am on the same list, because I’m unemployed at the moment too. I work construction in New York City and they’ve found a way to keep most projects going by deeming them essential, meaning they fell under the heading of medical, infrastructure or modified housing. Usually, I build apartment buildings which often include some percentage of “affordable” units and, therefore, fall under the heading of modified housing. In the trades, we fully realize this is a bunch of malarkey to keep the big real estate tycoons rolling in dough. As it happens though, my project is shutdown because workers keep getting diagnosed with the disease.

So I’m officially a member of the unemployed, one of the tired (bored?), poor (just got my stimulus check though), huddled with the masses, yearning* to get back to normal or, as my saintly Mom might say, “Now, fuck off and get a job.”

*pardon me, Emma Lazarus

#covid19 #coronavirus #unemployed

#middleaged #manspov

#middleageddating #lastfirstkiss #love #aging #autobiography #memories #writing #nyc

#nnj #northnewjersey #bergencounty

Easter 2020

*Blogger’s note: I’ve been having trouble uploading my posts here. For instance, I was certain I had posted this Easter morning only to find it in my draft file today. Please forgive the lag.

Son, on looking into the Easter bag I made for him: Feels a little light, Dad.

Me: Yeah, sorry. The bunny is hollow, so it doesn’t weigh much. Besides, we don’t need the extra calories being we’re cooped up inside all the time.

Son: No, I mean I don’t see a card with any cash in here.

Me: You’re 25. Maybe it’s time we stopped that tradition.

Son walks away disappointed.

Easter is a holiday full of resilience and hope and perhaps we haven’t had such worldwide need for both since the second world war. Here in my usually busy corner of the world (Northeast New Jersey, USA), we’ve slowed down considerably. The parks and beaches are closed, the malls and shopping centers are shuttered. Most employers have sent their workers home to continue as best they can on their laptops or, for those that have manual jobs, to wait it out as best they can. The roads and highways move freely and are the only places where things have accelerated. I don’t think the police are pulling anyone over for speeding. Sad to say, but we’ve become the epicenter of the disease with approximately a 1000 people dying daily within 30 miles of my house.

*Bronx liquor store sign (not taken by me)

And yet there is hope. I sometimes pessimistically wonder if its the hope of the alcoholic derelict who has finally begged enough money to buy a bottle of grain, but pisses blood in the alley. All the same, the experts say we’re getting near the peak. The extreme social distancing appears to be having good effect. The deaths may be mounting, but the hospitalizations are slowing. And outside nature provides a cue. The very air smells of fertile earth. The fruit trees are all abloom and the bulbs in flower, colorful dabs echoing the good news. Neighbors I’ve never seen before smile brightly towards me as we pass during our daily exercise. The children are painting rainbows on the house windows and chalking them on the driveways.

I think of Jesus now, rolling away the stone at his tomb’s entry. He feels a new day’s dawn warm upon his upturned face. And somehow, despite all, he walks out and smiles.

Happy Easter y’all.

#covid19 #coronavirus #easter2020 #easter

#middleaged #manspov

#middleageddating #lastfirstkiss #love #aging #autobiography #memories #writing #nyc

#nnj #northnewjersey #bergencounty

Clickety-clack

Forty years working and forty years late

I wanna follow Greeley’s direction west

Gonna stomp the grey dust off my boots

Uncinch this ol’ belt, give the tools a rest.

Lay my hard hat down for the rest of time

Wish my workmates enough wealth and good health

Proudly stride through one last construction gate

And put my faded union card on a shelf

Tomorrow I’m buying a first class ticket

On the transcontinental railroad train

Having never been past Pennsylvania

I wanna see the mountains and the plain

And sit in the bar car with a beer and a snack

Listening to them steel wheels go clickety-clack

Clickety-clack

#middleaged #manspov

#middleageddating #lastfirstkiss #love #aging

#poetry

#autobiography #memories #writing #nyc

Perspective

I’m sure this imagery and these words have been used thousands of times before. Here’s my perspective:

Between you and me

We built such a high wall

To protect ourselves

From tempest and squall

I sat on my side, you on yours

Each alone in shadow and pall

And neither sought a way over

Twas insurmountable and tall

We rented hourly lawyers

And signed our inky scrawl

But now with time and distance

Our big differences look very small

A

#middleaged #manspov

#middleageddating #lastfirstkiss #love #aging

#poetry

#autobiography #memories #writing

Spring in My Step

We were a bit slow in isolating ourselves here (I’m in Bergen County, New Jersey, USA, a suburb of NYC). By the time we got serious, China had completely shutdown Wuhan and seeing positive results. Italy was in chaos. Because of our lackadaisical attitude, my busy 30 mile radius is looking as bad as Italy, if not worse. And as much as social distancing seems to be helpful, testing seems to be the best remedy for getting through. Test everybody; isolate and treat the positives; and get through to the other side. We are seriously lacking in tests here. So they’re dying by the hundreds each day in my little area-500 or so just yesterday.

I think the circumstances may be driving me a bit nuts. I’ve only been seriously isolated for 10 days. It’s been that long since I stopped working. I’m not married (hence the dating blog) and the pandemic found me unattached. I have two children that don’t live too far away, but they’re sheltering in place, as well. I find myself doing little projects, cooking (I made a banana-chocolate chip bread yesterday and it was delicious), doing the New York Times crossword, playing Words with Friends, spending too much time on social media, and walking.

On the other hand, spring has arrived. The myriad of bulbs have bloomed their yellows and purples. The flowering bushes and trees are like splashes of bold colors one might see in a Claude Monet painting. There are less cars being driven and more people out walking singly, coupled or as families. Everyone makes a point of saying hello and I nod my head in acknowledgment. The weather’s been a little cool during my own long walks, at least compared to our mild winter, but it feels invigorating under the bright blue skies and the high sun shining bright. By God, it’s good to be alive.

#lastfirstkiss #love #aging #fiction #coronavirus #covid-19 #nyc #pandemic #coronavirus #bergencounty #nnj

Drawn Curtains and Cobwebs

I’ve been remiss. This blog has grown cobwebs. It’s dusty. I need to cast the curtains aside, open the windows, let in some fresh air, and shed some light, but I’m reticent. The reason I started this blog was to give myself a reason and an excuse to write a bit each week on a single theme. I chose online dating for a man on the down slope, so to speak. I guess I could optimistically say I’m middle-aged, but senior citizenry is right there ahead of me. Pretty soon I will be able to get into films at the reduced rate. There are all sorts of discounts and specials awaiting me in just a few more years, The AARP (American Association of Retired People) has been sending me membership forms for years now. Stop, please. I notice younger people give me respect I have not earned. This blog was supposed to be a humorous reliving of my adventures into the dating world after two fairly long relationships. A whole new world beckoned and it appeared to be geared towards my strengths.

You see I’m not a horrible looking guy, nor am I terribly overweight. True, I’m balding, but I’m in good shape financially and, really, let’s face it: if you’re a single woman on the verge of retirement, the latter is the more important. My secret weapon though, and the reason the digital dating world is my particular oyster, is I can write pretty well. And while the first enticement is looks, the second is probably communication skills. I never really looked at other men’s profile, but I can only imagine they’re pretty bad. Whenever I’ve matched with a woman, I’ve been pretty successful at getting the relationship off the ground with the written word. I can get them to laugh; I ask interesting questions; I’m engaging and am there for them. I often wish I could keep it in that realm, but women like to move onto phone calls…quickly. And while, I can write women silly, I become the silly one when we move to using our actual voices. I stumble and stammer, run out of things to say, and make excuses (often before the call is even made, I’ll say, I have to make it short, I have (insert inane reason here).

Amazingly, I have managed to move onto real dates and once we both get through my initial shyness, I have gone onto several lasting relationships over the last couple of years. Well, as lasting as they can be, acknowledging there have been several in less than two years. And there have been many, many one-offs. I have gotten into a few sexual predicaments. In other words, despite my absence, digital dating has continued to fill my mind, if not this blog, with plenty of material. So why have I not continued? I had been building a steadily growing audience worldwide, which I’ve lost for the most part. The short answer to why I stopped is: I had painted myself in a corner. Many of the women I dated were aware of the blog and I hadn’t built up quite the time differential I needed to say, Oh, dont worry, dear, that’s the distant past. More importantly, I fell deeply into a relationship that confused and enthralled me and in some ways still consumes me. And I cannot write about it. So here I am.I will get back to it. I promise.

In the meantime, something else of interest has come up…maybe you’ve heard of this coronavirus…

#lastfirstkiss #love #aging #fiction #coronavirus #covid-19 #nyc #pandemic #coronavirus