My definition of a lovely lunch: Start with a fresh apple (Fuji is good) cut into slices. Add several chunks of a favored cheese like Asiago Fontina or Port Salute and a slice of good artisinal whole grain bread. Fill a small dish with natural peanut butter & place a few select pieces of dark chocolate next to it on your plate. Brew up a decent cup of Earl Grey tea & find a spot where people will leave you be for a while. I like going to Bryant Park on a nice day or slipping into a vacant office to gaze out the window onto Manhattan island while I feast.
You will enjoy the many culinary combinations you are able to make; apple & cheese, bread & cheese, peanut butter & apple, apple & chocolate, chocolate & bread, chocolate & peanut butter, chocolate & peanut butter & bread! The tea helps bring it all together in a harmonic syncopation that warms your entire body.
This makes for a delightful, healthy & impressive lunch that powers you for the remainder of the afternoon.
Have fun & get inspired to improvise.
So I was bored, really no other reason to give to it. Work was slow – August you know – and the office was quiet. Rather than share my mid-day meal with a hundred tourists down in the plaza I found a vacant office, prepared my food and plugged into my iPod. Radio Lab was to be my lunch buddy for the day so I randomly pulled up an old podcast and began to listen to “The Ring and I.” That is when it happened. Over the course of one hour all my doubts and resistance dropped away and I gave myself over, at long last in my short life, to the sway of Richard Wagner’s epic tale known as The Ring Cycle. (Pardon me while I swoon.)
A bit of back story
I have long been a JRR Tolkien fan and read and re-read my own hard-cover editions of The Lord of the Rings decades before Peter Jackson’s most honorable film adaptations first lit up the screen. Some of my earliest child hood memories are of my mother sitting by the fireplace reading The Hobbit to my sisters and me. In grade school I spent hours lying on the floor pouring over a huge colorful book depicting fantastical images of Greek & Norse gods and goddesses.
So somehow I always knew that Wagner’s iconic opera had strong influence on Tolkien & that other guy who wrote the Chronicles of Narnia *. (Sorry, I have no right to slight a literary legend I just can’t recall his name as I sit here working a web log entry. – sigh – oh the evils of modernity and it’s impatient slave driver, the Internet. Must I Google this now to satisfy the need to know whilst I loose my train of thought?!) Opera, however, was totally not my thing and no Wagnerian scholar was going to spill light on my jacket of youthful rebellion so I ditched and dodged my way past Der Ring Des Nibelungen as I simultaneously dove deep into Middle Earth and the burden of Frodo Baggins. As maturity grew and my rebellious streak softened into a quirky sensibility I had a burgeoning awareness of this “other” Ring encroaching upon my literary fantasy world.
Innocently I walked through the doors to the Ring Cycle and I embraced it with abandon. I fell in love and experienced all the giddiness and sense of wonder that comes from discovering a new and mysterious opportunity to stretch my mind despite knowing very little about my suitor. After my mid-day journey with Jad Abumrad and his pod cast I went back to my desk and began a fierce search for anything and everything Wagnerian that involved a ring. Remember I said it was August and things were slow that week. To my great surprise I found out that the Metropolitan Opera was on the verge of mounting a new Ring cycle and that tickets were soon to go on sale. Was it fate? Was it coincidence? Was it a great convergence of time, space and understanding? Who cares? All I knew was that my head was filled with a kind of sweet obsession, a gnawing desire, an impatient resolve that I had just come face to face with the next great mountain for me and my mind to climb. I fell under Wagner’s spell and now the world simply does not look the same to me.
Every typical weekday many of us go through an amazing rite of transition. We move, physically, emotionally, & for a few, spiritually, from a private space called home to a public space called work and back again to that private space. Public – private – public – private , each time undergoing a transformation of sorts. Back in the day when people wore hats as a necessary dress item we could quickly identify who we were and what we did by the hat we wore upon our head. Today the phrase remains “I’m changing hats right now” to indicate that the present roll we are playing is undergoing a significant shift. I don’t have a hat, I have a commute. Sometimes it comes in the guise of an angry bus driver throwing passengers around in the back, some times it’s the roaring subway, other times a long, slow walk home. This moment of transit is rich with insight and introspection for me. I watch the paterns made by the 800 people criscrossing the intersection of 5th Ave & 42nd St. I observe the shapes of the buildings whirling by or the streak of lights in the tunnel. I recall memories from long ago, or just yesterday. We constantly move – we hate to stop – we focus ahead – we miss a lot.
My life is made up of transitions – how I string them together makes the music of my existance.
I have a son – a most amazing son. When he emerged from my body the world was forever changed. We’ve been through a lot and will be through more together. Together we heard and watched the air plane go overhead that hit the World Trade Towers, stood together shaking as the attack unfolded. Together we explored the minutia of a day – the light dancing in the window, the breeze blowing his golden hair. We’ve fought and battled and turned to each other moments later with apologies and hugs. On the threshold of becoming a man my most amazing son is looking out at the world he will soon be in charge of – for his part. What does he see? How does he relate to it? What can he possibly do in the face of all the stupidity that adults have heaped upon his world? Go to work – that’s what. He’s living in a great age of privilage and respect, a human being can scarcely imagine it better. Let us assure that there is fresh air for him and his children to breath – clean water for him and his children to drink – light and space and hope to love and live into. He is my legacy – it is for him that I carry on.
“The meaning of life is that it stops” Franz Kafka
A collage remembering 9/11 by my son, Max, for a middle school project.