Something About Nothing

(google image)

I haven’t posted in almost three months because I feel I have nothing to say. Well, at least nothing I think people want to hear. Maybe it’s the result of living in a social media-based world, wanting to be more positive and feeling that writing about unsettling or unpleasing topics and feelings is ever so uncool.

In that vein, I thought I’d go ahead and post Something About Nothing. Like Seinfeld, the self-described TV show “about nothing.” But there is always something to be found in nothing. A silver lining to every dark cloud.

Sometimes I long to feel nothing, and sometimes my prayers are answered. My old friend Anhedonia creeps in, putting my feelings on ice, wrapping me up in a delicious blanket of numbness and don’t-give-a-damn. Merriam Webster defines anhedonia as “a psychological condition characterized by inability to experience pleasure in normally pleasurable acts.” This condition also makes you impervious to emotional pain, at least that’s how it works for me.

Nothing. The absence of something. The absence of stuff, baggage, fears, sadness, happiness, inhibitions, guilt. I’m riffing here.

On another note, grief is settling into my bones, becoming more a part of who I am,
not a negative, fearful thing. Merely a thing that exists, like the scar on my palm after I cut it on a cat food can. I’m a slow healer, so it will always be there.

I am making plans for this year, not resolutions, but plans. Resolutions is too strident a word for me.

Nothing is part of my plan. To let nothing stand in my way. To let nothing tear me apart. To let nothing and no one tell me who I am or what I can and cannot do. To enjoy the entirety of life and accept the love I receive without question, without trying to control it or judge it. To embrace life in all its nothingness and something-ness. To take NOTHING for granted.

Nothing can be a good thing.



Children Under the Stairs


(photo: Ren Rebadomia)

seen, but not heard
born unwanted

children under the stairs

crust of bread
if you are good
but only
if you are good

spiders and shadows
are your friends
dust engravings
make art
cracks of light
on lucky days

keeps you whole

stay strong,
darling ones

someone will rescue you
I hope

you will no longer be
children under the stairs

Look to the Rainbow


photo by Angela Marie Henriette

On St. Patrick’s Day, Lorin and I watched Finian’s Rainbow on the Turner Classic Movie station (TCM). Although it was rather dated and at times, flat-out bizarre, the spirit and the songs, as well as the wonderful pairing of Fred Astaire and Petula Clark as father and daughter from Ireland, kept us engrossed. I woke up this morning with the song “Look to the Rainbow” in my head, and it won’t let go.

That’s what neurologist and author Dr. Oliver Sacks would refer to as a “brainworm,” a bit of music that gets stuck in your head and repeats itself over and over again. I was saddened to hear that Dr. Sacks, a personal hero of mine, was diagnosed with terminal cancer earlier this year.

I started reading Dr. Sacks’ books after my mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2010, including Musicophilia and The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat. You might know him from the film Awakenings (also one of his books) starring Robin Williams and Robert DeNiro; Robin Williams plays the Dr. Sacks character. I feel I have gotten to know the man through his books and his tremendous work with countless patients afflicted with various types of neurological disorders. He has devoted his life to research and the service of others. A life well-lived.

Dr. Sacks is one of the living reminders that we must continue to look to the rainbows in our lives, wherever they may appear, whether expected or unexpected, planned or un-. This is a reminder to myself and my friends and loved ones. Times are tough, but we are tougher.

Now for Fred and Petula:

Dream of Flight


photo by Robert Croma

At the airport
missed plane
only two flying per day
had to go
Dad helped me pack
on the phone with Mom
and still packing

after a while, she stopped speaking
“Mom, Mom, are you there?”


I kept saying, “goodbye”
put the phone down
background noise / music on her end
then a click

I was traveling overseas

Where was she?

The Dispatchers

Definition of “dispatch” according to the Merriam Webster online dictionary: 
“(1) to send off or away with promptness or speed; especially: to send off on official business, (2)  a :  to kill with quick efficiency, b:  obsolete :  deprive, (3)  to dispose of (as a task) rapidly or efficiently, (4)  defeat”

As you can see from the number of posts I’ve written on the subject, New Jersey Transit is a big part of my life. After 7 years of using the system on an average of 10 times a week (weekdays a.m. and p.m.), I guess it would have to be, or else I have no life: you decide. To truly appreciate the “NJ Transit Experience,” one must first know The Dispatchers.

When Lorin and I first started riding the bus, the dispatcher at our gate, Infamous Gate 224, was a fellow he nicknamed “Porky” after–you guessed it—Porky Pig. But a mean Porky Pig. Porky had a face resembling a frying pan–flat, inert, with dull brown eyes. He sauntered up and down the bus passageway, seemingly without purpose and would disappear for minutes or hours at a time. We joked that he was on a perpetual French fry break. He never communicated to us commuters what was going on when there were significant delays. One time a commuter asked him where the 6:15 (you fill in the time) bus was and showed him the bus schedule. Porky said, “The schedule is a guideline, there are no guarantees” in a deep gruff voice. Mystery solved. Porky vanished several months ago and no one seems to miss him.


Suave is dapper, well-groomed and sleek, and has the air of a Miami nightclub owner. You never know when he will appear, and when he does, you can be sure he will be looking fine–never breaks a sweat. He saunters even more aggressively than Porky, never communicates with us and when a bus finally appears after waiting, say 45 to 60 minutes, he talks to the bus driver for what seems an eternity. The express line may be snaked around 4 times with no breathing room, but he’ll probably dispatch another local bus. A couple weeks ago after we had been waiting for over an hour, a commuter started banging on the plexi(?) glass barrier, “Do your fucking job! Send us an express! Do your fucking job!” I was gratified to see someone up in arms at Suave’s incompetence. Suave did not respond to the commuter directly, but he did switch the bus from local to express. Suave never speaks directly to any of us. He’s far too . . . suave.

Man Mountain Dean.
Man Mountain Dean, so-named after the famed wrestler born Frank Simmons in NYC in 1891. Suffice it to say, he is a mountain of a man. MMD gets the job done. Strong and silent. He bellows into his walkie talkie for buses, and the buses do come. He lets you know if it’s an express or a local and keeps the lines moving at a steady clip. God bless MMD! He has not been seen in a while. Perhaps he has found another calling, a higher mountain. We may never know.


O Captain! My Captain!
Last, but not least, is O Captain! My Captain! (OCMC). A 20-year veteran of NJ Transit (former bus driver), he is at Gate 224 two to three nights a week and fills beleaguered commuters with hope for a brighter future. He communicates with us, he barks orders into the walkie-talkie, he cracks a joke here and there, he helps old ladies onto the bus. He is our hero! From time to time he says, “163 bus to nowhere!” and we all laugh. We understand. Where are we going after all? With him we feel safe. We know he will lead us on to victory or at least get us on a musty bus to Hackensack. God bless our Captain!

“O Captain! My Captain! our fearful trip is done,
The ship has weather’d every rack, the prize we sought is won,
The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting,
While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring . . .”

– Walt Whitman