Pico de Orizaba

Pico de Orizaba
Taken from Huatusco, Veracruz, the closest town to Margarita's family's ranch.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Stream of Consciousness vs Surrealism,

I decided to draw today.  Seeing so many of my drawings and paintings on the blog, I developed a craving for the visual drawing experience.  The wonderful thing about drawing and painting is that there is a ton of self-gratification when the piece is successful and finished. You can put it on your wall for your and other peoples' admiration over the following years.  With writing, all you see are words.  And how many times will you read what you wrote?  Plus, with writings, the person to whom you offer the piece can put it aside indefinitely and you may never know if they read it.  However, if you place the drawing or painting infront of the person's eyes, you will get an immediate response. Truthfully, I've been a bit surprised at the response to my drawings and paintings I've received over the past year.  

Natalie said that my artwork should be exhibited in New York City and many other cities. Before seeing my artwork she said that reading my writings was like seeing a movie or travelling through my writings.  She mentioned that I should write a book on international cuisine and I had mentioned how I would love to write about how the migration of people throughout the world has influenced the cuisines and agriculture of so many countries affected by imperialism and colonialism. However, she became overwhelmed by my writings and psychological vicissitudes caused by the suddenly increased stress brought upon addressing the subject matter and hasn't "spoken" with me since I first began writing the blog.  A lot of intensity.  

When I was in the relationship with Mónica in 1997/98, I used the drawing and painting as an escape from her, a form of meditation and finding silence within my internal world, since there was absolutely no way of having a healthy conversation with her.  

While struggling with the creation of this blog, I decided to draw, hoping it would release some of the stress.  What appeared upon the paper was a naked man with a scar from his pelvis to his neck, his arms tied behind his back and his head cut off falling to his side.  I'm sure you can imagine that the drawing didn't help me relax.  Fortunately, I haven't had much reason for returning to that drawing over the past 3 weeks since I found a writing flow.  Looking back on the day, I don't believe it was such a good decision to work on the drawing instead of writing.  The drawing is not bad.  I like the colors, some of the lines.  However, the man's head became that of a woman.  His body is almost perfect.  However, the base of his penis is too low and it looks as if he has a vagina where his penis should be...  And the problem just resolved itself. 

When I was in Guadalara and Leon, Guanajuato, November and December 2010 I immersed myself in a "Stream of Consciousness" painting that became "Crucified Pregnant Woman".  My "studio" was to the right of the kitchen and behind the "Dining room" table.  I had my back to the  television on from between 9am and 11:59pm.  The only peaceful time I had to myself was from 12am until 4am, when everyone was asleep.  The hour was good for concentration.  However, the light wasn't so good for distinguishing color tones and shades.  The house had track lighting that I shifted for reducing glare.  However, track lighting is a poor substitute for natural light.  The painting had it's ups and downs. I am a perfectionist and truly needed an immersion in professional figure drawing/painting and perspective; the problem of not studying art in college; probably the furthest thought from my socially idealist mind at the time 20 years ago; Fine art has no socio-political value.  It's created by the middle-class for upper class luxury consumerism.  I felt it unnecessary.  The ironic thing is that I haven't utilized what I studied at Hampshire that I considered more socially valuable; social-history.  And what gives me the most enjoyment and vitality in my life falls within the interests of the upper-middle class; international cuisine, gourmet baking, writing, drawing, painting, dancing, reading of fictional literature from around the world...  The paradox of idealism/creativity.  The problem with creating a broadened interest in culture across the economic classes of the world is that, if the artist makes their product more economically accessible for the middle-class and the working-class, the artist runs the risk of not being able to pay for their materials and for their lifestyles.  It's a double-edged sword: you don't pay your life because the art consumer market is very small; you don't pay your life because you charge too little for you product, like our cupcakes in Xalapa.  The only way to combat this problem of lowering the prices and selling enough to pay the rent, etc., is in crossing the artist with a Ford manufacturing plant production line.  However, those artists cease being artists and their art ceases having true personal and artistic value.  

Towards mid-December, I entered into a panic.  I wanted to finish the painting before we left for the ranch in Veracruz on the 18th.  We wouldn't return to Leon until the 3rd of January.  The ranch is a horrible place to paint or draw; too many people, too many children.  One of those children is the 3-year-old Aries Andrea who gets into everything, grabbing things and not letting go until the bottle of expensive body lotion is oozing all over the floor due to her tantrum where she squeezes the cream out of the bottle you are trying to remove from her hands because she was pumping it into her mouth like whipped cream.  Can you imagine what would happen if she got her hands on my acrylic paint tubes?  Yesterday she entered into my room while I was drawing and her older brother Diego came in too.  I had my expensive Prismacolor pencils spread out on the table and I kept myself muy quieto (very calm) like when you encounter an unleashed pitbull terrior on the street during your daily walk.  One false move and she could grab a handful of pencils, breaking them in one of her aunt or uncle's attempts at removing them from her hands.  "They're mine! I found them!"  "No, they are not yours Andrea.  They are your uncle Ross'"  If I can't have them, no one can!  The worse that happened was that Andrea and Diego began drawing on my table painting of a pregnant Virgin of Guadalupe in the desert and then started drumming with my pencils to Blind Melon, which can break the lead inside the pencils.  

The negative experience of painting The Crucified Pregnant Woman was misconstrued as being related to the subject matter.  However, the idea behind the painting is actually positive in a form; acknowledging the sacrifice of women over the milenia.  Sacrifice can be seen in many ways; metaphorical sacrifice, biblical sacrifice, actual sacrifice as in the Roman crucifixions, the Spanish Inquisition and the European Witch Hunts or socio-familial sacrifice negating the true value of the woman withing the family and as the true nurturer an cultivator of all humans, male and female.  How the mother is with the child and with the family greatly determines the trajectory of that person when he or she becomes an adult.  I just don't understand how people and the churches (including synagogues and mosques) can ignore that most important reality of human existence.  The painting experience got me down.  And I started berating myself for not having the training for obtaining the desired result in the painting.  What began as "stream of consciousness" ended with a feeled attempt towards completing an idea I carried within my mind.  I berated myself for being a male focussing once again upon a crucified woman, a prevalent subject matter and concern of mine while living in Brooklyn.  So, I stopped painting.  The political, insecurity situation in Mexico was exploding at the time and I said to myself, I'll just find myself reproducing the macabre energy of this country.  So, between December 18th, 2010 and June 28th, 2011, I've only done one drawing, my self portrait as a skull Eternally Happy/Eternamente Feliz I drew at the ranch in the attempt at studying the human anatomy from the skeleton outwards.  I didn't get far. 

This is an oil painting on water color
paper.  I was painting for what seemed
like hours, frustrated.  I felt that I was
just making mud.  And then I suddenly
saw a mother with a baby in that mud
and started working on it

Why do I say "stream of consciousness" drawing instead of surrealistic?  The idea behind Surrealism is that the artist doesn't think about what they are painting or drawing and just lets their subconscience flow out through the pencil or the brush, like painting with their eyes closed.  Looking at the work of Dalí, I don't believe he is truly surrealist for a moment.  His artworks seem incredibly well planned out. I don't call my art surrealist, because I am constantly looking for signs/figures within the lines, looking for the subconscious or spiritual theme, to see if I should continue onward.   It is very conscious.  Why it's "stream of consciousness" is because the drawing or the painting maintains a certain flow or rhythm.  It's not a style.  It's a mood. The lines, strokes, movements are based upon my internal "beat" at the moment.  The mood can create a circular or swirling theme or it can create a dash, cross or cubicular theme.  Often there is a specific intensity and then I start seeing the theme of the drawing or the painting.  I don't have a visual memory.  So, it's horribly difficult for me to pull out objects from my mind for filling the canvas, which is extremely frustrating, thinking of composition...  This could be why I don't have one specific art form, why I don't immerse myself in one form of creativity.  For some reason or another, this writing is becoming very tedious.

I go through periods when I am very focussed upon cooking and creating recipes.  There are periods when I am a voracious reader.  There are periods when I want to express myself in writing (these past two months) and there are periods when I become incommunicative and immerse myself in drawing and painting; July through December 2011.  When I am drawing or painting I don't talk.  When I am writing, I am very talkative.  When I am painting or drawing intensely and successfully, my feet move and I find myself dancing.  When I am in a writing flow, I can be in one space for hours and days without moving.  When I encounter myself with people, I am much more eloquent, articulate and witty or comical. When I am not writing nor painting, I eat too much and I seek more cosmic justifications for what I am doing here.  

Do you need a cosmic justification for what you are doing here?  I think everyone has some concern or another for what it is they are actually doing here on Earth or if there was something else more meaningful they should have been doing.  And when their life is coming to a close, will they feel that they actually achieved something.  What was your true purpose here?  My Uncle Henry believed that he was here to heal and cure people offering accessible medical services to all he could serve.  Maybe you believe you are here to teach people, or help them find their spiritual way, or their mental health or to soothe people and family members of those people with mortal diseases or to entertain people or share beautiful foods, people and places with people through your photographs. Maybe you believe your purpose in life is to help the small business person become successful and independent
 or to create a strong and beautiful family.  Or to instruct people upon getting the most out of 
their physical bodies as athletes and to teach them how to work as a team.  You could be here to administer businesses or households or departments of governments or school systems.  You may believe that order is the base of a healthy society.  Without a healthy society it's difficult to raise children into healthy and helpful adults.  Maybe you believe your purpose in life is as a spiritualist or a philosopher or a theorist offering to the greater society new concepts for understand the world. But, what if you don't know what it is you are doing here?  

Is it true that I am here on this planet to meet Margarita and to help her family pull itself up from its 
bootstraps?  I think that was part of my life.  But, I'm still Ross, regardless of Margarita and her family and there is something else I must be doing in this life.  Cooking international cuisine (not so much here in Mexico), reading a ton of books and being able to talk about so many things, drawing, painting and writing...  But where does this all lead me?

As far as I know, I can't produce children.  Margarita just got her... again...  Me counting the months to see under what sign the baby would be born if this time... and Margarita saying, "It never fails! You brought it on one more time.  I guess we were too late again."  Too late for having babies?  Or too late for starting our sexual romp?  
I called this a doodle drawing.
It is my absolute favorite with
so much significance and color
balance and intensity.

How many of my paintings and drawings began as stream of consciousness?  I can't tell you off hand, but I can show you.  It's easier to work stream of consciousness with paint because there is more flexibility.  However, I have more control over the colors with color pencil, to a certain extent.  The problem with drawing is that the paper can only receive a certain amount of pigment.  Canvas can receive an infinite number of layers...  The reason I began drawing/painting with "stream of consciousness" is because I always became horribly frustrated with the outcomes of paintings or drawings planned in my head.  It's kind of my life story; if I want something specific, that specific something becomes elusive or disappears from sight when I move towards making an active conscious attempt at obtaining it.  However, if I am focussed upon my spiritual relationship with life or with myself or with that drawing or painting, piece of writing, incredible things occur.  In Astrology, the planet Mars signifies how one obtains their goals.  Mars is also the Roman God of war.  He's agressive and chauvanistic.  That's why in simplistic astrology for relationships, the astrologer focusses upon the relationship between the man's Mars sign and the woman's Venus sign, Venus being the Roman Goddess of Love and beauty and Venus symbolizing the attraction
 that draws the Mars in the man.  That aside, I have my Mars in Sagittarius.  Sagittarius is symbolized by the Centaur, the mythical half man-half horse archer.  Mars in Sagittarius signifies a person with a lot of sexual desire and a lot of drive horse power.  However, unlike the Aries who sees the object of desire on the other side of the wall and walks through that wall in order to obtain that object, the Sagittarius is an arrow shot into the sky, with incredible force and desire.  The problem is that the Sagittarius never knows where the arrow will land. They just know that it must be shot and that it will go very far and that they will cross the seas in search of the landing place of their arrow.  The means justifies the end...  The desire isn't actually the obtaining, but the journey.  The more unknown the object, the better, since there requires much more journeying.  Sagittarius is an explorer, be it physically or mentally.  I am Gemini with Moon, Ascendent and 3 planets in Virgo.  However I have my Mars in Sagittarius, and Venus and Jupiter in Taurus...  What does this all mean?  Look for people with their Moon or Ascendent (Rising Sign) in Leo and you will find people with incredible social success (some people would call them very "lucky"); my younger sister Beth and my former roomate and friend Scott.  If you ever see Scott's photographs, you will immediately see that this man SHINES.  He attracts children and women from all over the world.  It also helps greatly that Scott's passion is photography.  Check out his website http://www.scottbrosen.com/  Why?  Ask God.  Who's God?  That's up to you...  

Back to Sagittarius being an arrow shot into space and Mars being in pursuit of a mate and remember the lines of my poems (that I wrote before "studying" astrology) I am the wind and I am the leaf carried on that wind...  I am the archer and the arrow shot into the sky...  I began dreaming of and searching for my "soulmate" in 3rd grade.  I went through how many people and wrote how many poems and wasted how much time and money looking for her, finally finding her in the mountains of Veracruz, Mexico.  And it is a truly wonderful relationship.  When I look at my watch and the calender, instead of becoming impatient with the slowness and boredom of the relationship, I realize that another 6 months have passed and we are approaching our 8th wedding anniversary.  I still haven't explained how we ended up travelling around the country with an 18 foot coffee bar; four years of struggling with the cupcake business, renting 5 different apartments/houses over a 3.5 year period dreaming of one day having the money to leave Xalapa, Veracruz to see other parts of the country, fighting with my family over the possibility of pooling money in the form of a loan so we could create the means of putting our business in a community where the people will pay the value of our product. My life experience has taught me the opposite of "If you ask for it, you shall receive."  It's when I stop asking that what I'm looking for appears.  However, it doesn't appear in modern human time.  I may ask for something today and it arrives in 3 years, after I stopped asking.  

I can't ask for a specific drawing or painting or writing.  They must flow upon their own spiritual energy.  And I'm going to leave off with this. 

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Poem "Ofelia" written in Oaxaca early February 2003

8.5 years with Margarita.  I never wrote her a poem.  Not true.  When we first met, I tried writing her one in Spanish.  I believe that the most beautiful poems that I've written are inspired by the intense energy rising from interpersonal conflict within my own mind.  The less obtainable the person and the actualization of the desires, the bigger the illusion projected upon that person; the bigger the illusion of loss and pain projected upon myself.  The poem arrises from colliding of to geological plates.  The conflict becomes more stimulating than the reality.  The creative process results in a poem, a drawing, a painting more real than the actual person seen, but unknown.  Later on, I would thank the appearance of that person for having inspired me to create something new, something beautiful. The romantic poet lives with his heart in his hand and his head in the clouds.  He could be offering his heart, he could be protecting it, or he could be preparing to through it over the mountain ridge in the distance.  

Words seem so unnecessary,
although I've spoken so much. 
At a moment, I feel that I know her, or I sense something incredibly beautiful. 
Her knowing overwhelmes me
as does her radiance-- 
She radiates beauty softly, subtly;
gentle rain. 
I am speechless.
Appears in my vision as the sun rising at dawn. 
She is the stars, the moon... within my silent reverie,
In slow time
After she's settled into my world
When I slip into hers.
Slow moments
Time expanded like laying under the stars, quietly listening... 
Anticipating the eventual sunrise
Some dawns are dusks
I know of a sunrise that brings sadness
In that light I lose sight of Ofelia
I become blind
I cease knowing.
Is an unintentional performance
A spectacle...
The Colibrí, Hummingbird
Floating over the flower softly
As water falls like tears into a pond
I am the audience, the spectator
Speechless, even as I speak
My words insignificant
I seek retreat into the shadows of her theatre
To sit in silence and to observe her for hours
As her light radiates towards me
I am swallowed by her performance
Mesmorized by her design,
The choreography of her movement,
Her costume--a gift of nature, God's love
Is song
And the lyricist
I am bathed in her music,
A breeze carrying soft evening air of the perpetual Oaxacan Spring
Ofelia's presence is a movie
I am transfixed
I cannot leave the theatre mid-film,
not for hunger... thirst...  sleep...
I wish not to pause the film
Is the perpetual beginning 
Regardless of time, she is morning,
Wish I were the passive spectator but
is not an object
She does not perform for me,
Just as mangos don't grow for my eating
Or lilacs for my smelling
In her presence, I'm compelled to speak,
My words, so many words, too many words
A justification
I am not a wall and
I cannot just stand there
staring... watching... floating in her aura
My words break the incantation, snap my trance
Although my heart continues swelling and
I remain anchored in her patio,
Moored to her eyes,
Chained by her words,
Floating on her expressions and
Shy and occassional flirtatious movements
When I see Ophelia, my heart leaps
When I stumble upon her presence unanticipated, while in movement,
The air before me solidifies, becomes an invisible wall
I collide with my sudden change in direction
I trip and slide back into her recepticle
Want to listen to Ofelia... 
Feel her... 
know her...
pass through the spell and become calm, silent, comfortable.
But I am overwhelmed by emotion, fantasies--desires, fears, concerns...
The conflict between reality perceived with its assumed limitations
and knowing...
That, in the limitations of knowledge and understanding,
Anything and the unexpected beauties of life happen...
There are times when I wish for knowing and feeling nothing
Desires and needs--
For romantic love... For companionship...
--Are easily shelved
Is it not often better that way?
My soul calls for joining, deeply...
I cannot ignore beauty
I dream of treating it as an object
Appreciating it from afar
But I'm never satisfied with book learning
Or walking through art museums
Photos of foreign landscapes don't sate my desire for travel...
It's a rare poem I read twice
Are art in motion...
Poetry breathes between us...
May be a stanza
But she's no metaphor
She is the figure and replaces nothing
Am caught in the pulse of her song
That dances between the lines...
That flies above the words as mountains of a moving landscape
Is the flower extended open,
Am the Colibrí,
The hummingbird...
Hovering above,
Frozen in motion
Couldn't just smile and walk away
I  am sorry for that.

No, I didn't write beautiful poems to Margarita.  I created and lived that beautiful poem with her.  Now we write it together.  I believed that I could trade everything of my past, my creativity, for Margarita.  But, there is a vitality within me, that requires a perpetual creative process.  In order to be vital with Margarita, I must find the vitality within myself and hope that it's real and not delusions...

Monday, June 27, 2011

Call and Response Poem; James and Ross

September 7th, 1999

To Ross
No sadness in this one, no wont, no confusion, no wierdness, 
no sexual battery of the self,
no frustration to clog our sinks, 
no anticlimactic fuzzthinkers......
I just wanted to know how your holiday was......

oh, and to say I am well and 
in no way close to the place I was in the last few confusing middle of the night shots in the dark..
I fed myself up with that whole amberthing 
and one of the shots hit a piñata that bled all over me 
the rediculous rain that rains and rains all over us and we can't stop it, 
it is there, for us or against us....
always for us and against us, 
it hits and we can laugh, smile or get angry and upset...
let it rain...
let it rain out my cigarette..., thankfully so. 
There is much much power in the littlest things... 
like turning the ringer off on the phone. 
I decided that no call could make me feel any better and 
she wouldn't call anyway and 
if she was to I wouldn't care or need that. No good could come of that anyway...
no call could give me what I was looking for so
I switched it off for a night, then two. 
There is power in that, 
a great tantamount starshaking power that does wonders 
that St. John's Wort and funny movies can only imagine reaching....
Maybe you remember it. It is a definate bachelor type of power, 
maybe an illegal intoxicant..
It was and it worked. It made me free, 
like throwing away a half smoked smoke, 
like turning off a song that you love halfway through..
It was necessary and made a step, 
a step out of the darkness......the night they drove old dixie down...
.na na na na nana na an na na ............... .Love James

To James

To reply...
To reply with a laugh and a smile and a sigh. 
No tears in the eye? 
No Joe 
we must flow with things not so salty and wet yet sweet sweat. 
To reply with a gleam in the eyes 
when Joe NOLA boy tells stories of morning glorious dreams come true 
like that time he decided it was time to stop stewing in love-sick soup telephone ringer roues.
And bravo para mi hombre if only I could speak Spanish. 
And yes. 
I found a chord and accord a connection and reflection.
Some circumspection... manipulated...
and that blood stained rust caked word we worship or adore adulterate then abhore
when SHE forgets that mi penga AINT no sign of the times and a nursery rhyme spewing lemon flavored lyme. 
An exclamation point 
or an untouched joint 
choking on token moments of affection mistaken for truth 
and a blood stained rust caked gold plated peuter word at times used as a sword that some love-wishers hord.
Yes it was a good weekend and a holiday. 
No piñatas spitting upon my mind multicultural candy coins. 
Just sweet sweat minus chocha amarga. 
A vacation from spirit stimied by New New Yawkers and unhospitality hawkers. 
From conformity sharks and matty matty matty materialist paddies clothed in the latest garments of ever so perpetuated styles and when that ever-so-rare a New York notion appears I mean ya see Wall Street to Mid-town even East to West Village silicon smiles. 
I walk miles 
to meet the real and true 
HE and SHE
that understands 
GOD is WE 
as long as we are honest and considerate, compassionate, thoughtful and free to be as we are 
when we are truly true.
as the story goes about the tale of Joe or Jack with the weight of too many loves on his back. 
She was gorgeous. 
Gorgeous I tell ya. 
Yet she melted in my mind the way cotton candy disolves on one's tongue. 
True Freedom. 
Like that time I walked out the door without taking my art supplies and six books three journals a walkman two weeks worth of discs and seventeen scratchy scratch pens in a satchel, duffel bag and backpack for an evening of coffee house haunting waiting just waiting pre-senile osteo perosis. 
She was gone with the last change in barometric pressure or direction of wind. 
Did I swim?
 It could be that I was that sugar molecule melting in saliva on MY tongue. 
Absorbed and reabsorbed into my very own stream of consciousness.
gotta run, gotta skip, gotta jump. 
Gotta pretend earning a living for the sum sense of paying my rent is equivalent to worshiping the sun.
Ross in the city that hasn't yet awakened to the fact that style worn too tightly wears like old shoelaces and freyes and snaps. 
Style worn in place of soul is equivalent to the aftermath of sex being various forms of venereal disease, the clap. 
Attitude worn like clothes as style is like the assumption that buildings made of thick cement walls along the San Andres Fault will not crack and crumble.

Dancing Hasid, Subway Story

November 1999

I sat down next to a Hasid on the subway to work this morning. He was reading a bible or something of the sort in Hebrew. I wished I could read it.  As I sat there I started singing Davi Melech Yisrael, Chai Chai Yichaom. He looked at me and smiled. He asked me if I've ever danced with my hands to the song and, if not, he could show me how. I replied affirmatively,  that when I was a child I learned it at sleep-away-camp and that it would be nice to dance with my hands again. So we sat there pressed against one another in the cramped subway, singing Davi Melech Yisrael, dancing with our hands.  We laughed and sung until tears shed from our eyes. It was a wonderful experience! He got up and began dancing in the isle, took out a talis (or whatever it the name of those silk white and blue fringed scarf-like things)  from inside his long black coat and wrapped it around my neck, pulling me up into the isle. We started singing Havenu Shalom Aleichem, Havenu Shalom Aleichem, Havenu Shalom Aleichem, Havenu Shalom Shalom Shalom Aleichem, although it was 3 1/2 days until Shabbat.  We danced elbow to elbow. A woman walked up to us and asked if she could join us for a miniature Hora.  I looked at her as if she were crazy, said, “I can't believe some your ignorance! Don’t you know that this is the men’s side of the train?” and continued dancing. The Hasid continued dancing as if he hadn’t noticed her at all.

The F train entered a tunnel that passes below the East River between the York and East Broadway stations.   The lights dimmed. For some reason the mood of our songs became solemn and we sang Avenu Malchenu, Avenu Malchenu, tears soaking our long beards. It was a sad song. But it also made me feel very warm inside. The Hasid stopped dancing and said that we were about to enter East Broadway and it was time to recite the Mourner’s Kadish.   We bent down on our knees, placed our elbows upon the subway bench infront of us, bowed our heads and recited in Hebrew Yit'gadal v'yit'kadash sh'mei raba b'al'ma di v'ra khir'utei v'yam'likh mal'khutei b'chayeikhon uv'yomeikhon uv'chayei d'khol beit yis'ra'eil ba'agala uviz'man kariv v'im'ru... Oseh shalom bim'romav hu ya'aseh shalom aleinu v'al kol Yis'ra'eil v'im'ru.Amen." May His great Name grow exalted and sanctified in the world that He created as He willed. May He give reign to His kingship in your lifetimes and in your days, and in the lifetimes of the entire Family of Israel, swiftly and soon…  He Who makes peace in His heights, may He make peace, upon us and upon all Israel. Amen 

The train entered the East Broadway station.  The lights returned to full flourescence. Chinese people crowded into the center of the car pushing other passengers into the isle where the Hasid and I had been dancing so joyously. A woman stepped on my toe with the heel of her pump, a sharp pain shot through my ankle up through my calf and into my groin. I glared at her. But she was engrossed in her Wall Street Journal and hadn't even noticed the discretion. I looked over to my friend the Hasid as if to say, these Goyishe women! But an Elderly Chinese woman was sitting next to me, asleep. I glanced around the train looking for the Hasid. But he was no where in sight. I became horribly restless and anxious. The warm feeling quickly drained out of me. My hands started shaking uncontrollably. I dropped my head and stared down at my lap expecting to see a copy of the Old Testament in Hebrew the Hasid had handed me when we recited the Mourner's Kaddish.  Instead I saw Bohamil Hrabal's book, I Served the King of England laying open; a half eaten poppyseed bagel with cream cheese sat between pages 207 and 208. Some napkins had fallen on the floor. My coffee cup was tilted in my left hand, drops of it spreading out on my pant leg. At the next stop, Delancey Street, I rushed out of the train, knocked over a Puerto Rican woman as she was lifting her baby's carriage at the bottom of the steps. I glanced backwards briefly as she scrambled to keep the carriage from toppling over, then leaped up the stairs 3 steps at-a-time. I lit upon Essex Street. Sun shone on my face, but an icy wind blew from the East River and flowed up my pant legs and down through the collar of my jacket as my scarf unraveled from around my neck. The wind became icy undergarments. For a moment I felt like an Orthodox Jew who has suddenly found himself in the middle of an Eastern Orthodox Easter mass. The blood drained from my tongue and cheeks. I cuffed my ears with my hands and screamed like the man in Edvard Munch's painting the Scream, and ran down Delancey Street towards Orchard, past all the wholesale underwear, leather, and shoe distributors. I screamed across The Bowery and I screamed across Grand Street as I ran past the dim sum venders. I zig zagged throughout the Lower East Side, Chinatown, very little Italy and into Soho and all the while screaming, hair clutched between my wooly gloved fingers. On West Broadway there was a lone artist braving the cold morning air, selling what looked like reproductions of Marc Chagall paintings. He looked up when he heard me screaming as I
approached. I was rushing past him when I suddenly stopped dead in mytracks. I turned around panting. My cheeks red from the icy wind. And staredat the paintings then back at the lone artist. He was wearing a black felt hat. He had a long black beard. There were locks of hair tucked behind his ears. I was suddenly filled with peace.  He didn't seem in the least bit cold wrapped in his long black coat. The artist looked up at me and asked if I had time for him to show me a dance he had learned when he was a child living in a shtettle outside of Lvov, Poland. I hesitated.  For a second I thought there was somewhere I should be at the time. But I had forgotten why and to where I was rushing. So, I looked him in his dark brown eyes and nodden "yes". The artist grabbed my hand.  I felt a firm tug and we floated over the tops of the old tenement buildings in the Lower East Side. We passed above the cars pressed bumper to bumber entering the city on the Williamsburg Bridge and looked down at the Hasidic men and women dressed in their long black coatsand black fur rimmed hats crossing over the BQE from their homes to work in downtown Williamsburg. We floated towards the pale November sun that had risen above Sheepshead Bay and Brighton Beach and disappeared into the clouds.