The Never-Ending Staircase

We don’t constantly think about or put pressure on ourselves to acknowledge our growing every single day; we are going to learn and grow no matter the circumstances. We should not dwell on regrets, but we learn from the past. We often look ahead, but we don’t want to be too specific about quick hard-to-reach expectations. We hesitate and fear about taking risks that will allow us to succeed. Life is like an M. C. Escher staircase: it keeps going despite our continually reaching new personal heights.

And this is what was to be captured in today’s The Espresso Shot at Syracuse New Times.  And this final product was a result of a good tweaking.

After reading a social media post by fellow WordPress blogger, Kerrie, linking to a list of terrifying things kids say to their babysitters, caregivers, and/or parents. This post got me excited, so there needed to be an element in there that really shifted the tone of the piece.

The Steinbeck and Twain quotes were kept to ground the piece a little bit, explain the platform where I started. Plus, there has to be some reassurance that my imagination is pure, and drugs are not catalysts. Mind and body are things that should not be deteriorated as quickly as possible.

And staircases, as I am a lover of architecture, can be a bit creepy at times. The immediate thought of Herbert Mearn’s poem “Antigonish” popped into my head. It’s eerie. When I first heard it, it was over a decade ago in the movie, Identity.

So the desire to rope in life’s climb and progression and adventure into this as a M.C. Escher staircase. The little men, so figuratively speaking, are projections of yourself at the bottom of the staircase and waiting up on the next level, which seems so much greater in height. The post is a bit of a mind fuck. It’s intentionally creepy. Our past haunts us, and our future beckons us.

Without further ado … The Espresso Shot (#020): [Escher]

(Yes, I fixed that link to the post. Thank you, Stef.)


Writing on the Walls, Pages

Last year — Or what is this year? — a former college roommate of mine posted a picture of his reading a Louise Gluck poem. It’s a powerful poem in my opinion, and it resonated enough and wedge itself in between my mind and skull to look for the book when in a used bookstore. There was much resistance for a while, actually looking for the book, because …

Well, let’s be honest. Can someone really have too many books?


from Gluck’s The First Four Books of Poems

It will be said again: I love this poem. How it’s read and the aesthetic impact of this poem leaves a bad taste in my mouth. It’s confident. It resonates. And inside my mouth develops an odd taste that needs to be washed out with Listerine or some other alcohol-based mouthwash. It builds slowly and steadily, and the last line — “Love, you ever want me, don’t.” — is essentially the last straw with this torrid love. It’s a wonderful culmination and conclusion; so much is said with so little.

Well, as past practices have proven themselves pertinent, time is taken when reading poetry books. As personal opinion, you can’t read poetry like prose. Some people may disagree. The words and thoughts that make up a poem are often higher caliber, and to really understand — sometimes we may not fully understand, but it does not hurt to try — the meaning behind each piece, a poem has to wordsthoroughly be read and picked apart. But there really isn’t anything wrong with a person’s opinion, deeming poetry good or bad. An elaboration is always appreciated.

The receipt from the book was used as a bookmark; they usually are — recycled for purpose. But then an index card was found snug in between a couple pages and wedged into the backbone. It’s exciting to come across notes

The one of beauties of used books is finding markings, underlined passages, highlighting, and notations in the margins from a previous reader or maybe two or maybe three. The markings may come in the form of statements, questions, assumptions. Passages will be highlighted or starred or have a bracket in the form of one of those old ice carriers, signaling that this part, right here, is too cool to touch.

It interesting to see how others respond, and you get a look into their minds. You see what excites or depresses or stresses them. You wonder. You question whether this was supposed to be read by your eyes or not, if your brain was to cuddle these thoughts. And then you find lines if poetry on a card, lines from poets other than Louise Gluck. Regardless, inspiration is inspiration, and inspiration is beautiful, and beautiful is captivating.

The fact that these messages fell into your possession can be read into, perhaps. That’s up to the person, however. Not too many people write lines out. If quotes are captured, they’re either written to a Facebook wall or tweeted, but only to be lost in the ether of the Internet. With this, you may never know whose handwriting this or how many degrees of separation there are.

Of course, an attempt on my part was made to figure out where these lines came from. There hasn’t been a successful finding with the first passage. The second, however, is a poem by Stanly Kunitz; and it is called “First Love.” Click the link for a read. I enjoy the poem; it’s very fun and airy, whimsical even.

Being an often over analytic person when it comes to finding messages and banking on instances being more than coincidences, it’ll be interesting to see how this card plays out. What exactly is the Why? The card is going to stay in the book should I choose to leave it somewhere, because some aspects should not be tampered with.

Have you received any intriguing messages lately? What is a favorite that you’ve come across in the past?


Explanation Shmexplanation

There really isn’t too much to talk about in regard to my posts this week. They are what they are: a restaurant review and a quick thought provoker.

Wednesday night and early-early Thursday morning, I had this whole scenario and post written about about gentlemanly behavior in the downtown-on-Saturday-night bar scene. A guy we had seen this past weekend kept blowing air into the face of his girlfriend/interest. We’ll say “interest,” however. He did it five or six times, and this is not a joke, but she did not reciprocate a slap to the face. There was other behavior that allowed me to ask if the youth of America was truly on the verge of exploding.  But all this sounded too negative to me. It was trashed.

Instead, a friend posted a picture that really intrigued me. It allowed me to create a quick piece about the little things in life. Check it out and enjoy.




Tuesday’s: Ironwood is Solid

Thursday’s: Espresso Shot (#019)


My Nomination, Your Explanation

Before I begin today’s night on The Inevitable Coffee Ring narrative poem, something has to get out of the way, out of my system:

I’ve been nominated!




For the first time since seventh grade, I’ve been chosen to be a part of something that’s awesome. Thanks to you all, those who nominated me.  (In seventh grade, it was the Camillus Middle School Science Fair — I actually tied for First Place.) This blogging nomination an honor in itself. My blog, The Inevitable Coffee Ring, has been placed in the running with four other diverse blogs. It’s an eclectic group, and they all have wonderful content: food, things to do and events taking place in Syracuse, coupons and deals to be found in the surrounding area, and sports. And then there is me, the stream of conscious lifestyle blogger looking to simply entertain and take some risks with writing.

It’s the annual Syracuse New Times Best of Syracuse 2014. The category is “Best Blog.”

Feel free to go to the website, vote, scroll through the pages, and be sure to click “done” at the end. Otherwise your vote isn’t counted.


Tuesday’s piece on breakfast is what it is. It’s snarky, its supposed to be fun, it’s supposed to offend people a little, but the offence shouldn’t linger for too long. Any great breakfast is the way to start your day.

In today’s piece, The Espresso Shot, the narrative poem is packed with a lot. My primary point was to show that stars can be seen in the Syracuse night sky despite your being in the city at the time. The lights aren’t too distracting, and the quiet nature of the environment adds to a wonderful and almost storybook aura. The emphasis for a life soundtrack is stressed (again).

And with these two considerations, the desire to set up a fictitious proposal was wanted. Let’s have two people, who are briefly mentioned by the narrator, travel through the city of Syracuse. Let’s throw in some music, because it’s (almost) certain, that a guy’s head is filled with thoughts before dropping down on one knee. Music is usually calming and it sets the mood; cue Tommy Dorsey.

The tough aspect while getting through the piece: all the alliteration.

Talk about Syracuse:

  • How dessert and wine bar, Bittersweet, has amazing creme brulee and it’s not “bittersweet” at all.

    Clinton Square

    Clinton Square

  • The Clinton Street fountain, the  fountain in Franklin Park, the fountain in Hanover Square — we have a lot of water sputtering in Syracuse
  • How the city can easily be walked.

Then, I get into the stars, the sky. Here’s where knowing constellations and Greek Mythology comes into play:

  • Bootes, the herdsman, his constellation looks like an ice cream cone. He drives the bears (Ursa Major and Ursa Minor) or plows or oxen across the sky.
  • Circumpolar pertains to constellations that can be seen in the night sky year-round
  • Cepheus and Cassiopeia, King and Queen, are circumpolar constellations. Their arguments make them seem to be bears, or unbearable.
  • The King and Queen are placed upside-down in the sky.
  • Cassiopeia claimed that she and her daughter, Andromeda, to be the most beautiful women in the land and sea, stirring up confrontation with the Nereids (sea nymphs). Poseidon sends Cetus, his Kraken, to destroy Etheopia.
  • Andromeda is chained to a rock to be sacrificed by her own parents, but she is saved by him as he rides upon Pegasus, the white-winged horse.
  • Perseus and Andromeda are not circumpolar, but they are seen in the autumn night sky.

The characters of the poem ignore — they actually have nothing to do with — the commotion from above and create their own story. He gets over his unbearable nervousness, swoops in for the kiss, places the ring, and that story ends. As the story ends, the song/record ends. It’s someone else’s turn to put the needle down, sift through their nervousness.

And that’s that.


Tuesday’s piece: It’s Breakfast, You Champion

Today’s piece: The Mischief of Our Stars


10 Books That Have Stood Out

This past Saturday (August 30, 2014), Syracuse newspaper journalist, Sean Kirst (@seankirst), asked his Saturday morning question:

What 10 books influenced your life?

It was comforting to see many people comment with constructive and polite responses, because — if you’re not familiar with the online version of Syracuse’s newspaper — people can be not only vicious but ruthless with comments. Local advocate and confidant, Chris Fowler (@ChrisH_Fowler / @Syracuse First) got in with the game and posted his 10 books.

There are two books that coincide with the two people listed above, and those have to be gotten out of the way as “non entries.” Sure, they can be added to my list, but these should not be considered a cop-out in regard to the overlap. The two books — well, one is actually a series — were integrated at two different parts of my life.

On the Road by Jack Kerouac (found on Kirst’s) — The book and author were introduced to be halfway through college, and that’s a bit of a shock. For someone to enjoy reading and writing, Kerouac should have been more of a name to me in high school (at least). The poster that hung on my roommate’s wall, decorated with Kerouac’s face and a quote, was compelling. Ryan, the owner of the poster, looked shocked upon my inquiring. You can’t blame him; it wasn’t an overreaction since he kept still in his chair, and the only boisterous response was the shifting of facial expressions.

Frog and Toad (series) by Arnold Lobel (found on Fowler’s) — Talk about learning lessons and accepting others for differences. This early read series struck a chord with me. It definitely got me into reading, wondering where these two character’s relationship would lead them. They could have been the children’s version of The Odd Couple.  They could have been different races and religions for all we knew. But these two amphibians projected from humans still teach many people a lot about life and relationships and ourselves, whether we want to take away a lesson or not.


Here we go:

If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Joffe Numeroff — In retrospect, this children’s book taught me numerous things: keep going, keep doing, keep trying to satisfy your desires … and if some human steps in the way, do it anyway. Of course, this would pertain to positive things. In retrospect, his — the mouse’s — book also teaches improv for beginners with the “If _____, then _____” pattern. It’s about “yes, and-ing” and stressing that if something is true, so is something else (even if they may be unrelated).


The world that was created by Bill Watterson and his Calvin and Hobbes comic strip cannot be forgotten about. A boy and his stuffed animal and best friend. When no one else is around, that tiger comes alive. Watterson, while incorporating a lot of adult humor into the series, reminded us kids to be kids and prolong the whole growing up thing. Growing up is inevitable, and it’s important to embrace what we had in front of us. Calvin and Hobbes embraced the family, friends, life during the changing seasons, bullying, schoolboy crushes (although we denied them as much as we could), and how to embrace and utilize those times of feeling alone.

Oh, and how the power of imagination is limitless.




And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie. installed that murder mysteries are fun. For those who don’t realize it, it’s important to pay attention to the text, wording, and actions/dialogue of the characters. Everyone is a suspect. No, the butler doesn’t do the dastardly deed every time either. In this book, the housekeepers meet fates with overly injected sleeping aid and by an axe. The fact that my seventh grade English teacher encouraged me to use this book for a book talk makes it that much memorable. And the looks on fellow student faces while reading the poem …


 The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain may be cliche, but they’re classics. You can’t have one without the other, and neither could Samuel Clemons. Childhood adventure concepts parallel my childhood and friendships. However, the Huck Finn coming of age story that spans both books is amazing. Sure, he still contains that devious and adventurous personality, but he grows up a lot. From one book to the next, Mark Twain uses his own acceptance and abolitionist change, and he showcases it through his titular character. Finn accepts Jim. Tom, in the latter novel, does not change.

Twain put his heart into writing, paralleling his life and growth through his work. I love that passion.


It by Stephen King. I red the monstrous book about the monster in nine days, suffering through all the nightmares that came along with it. It was a challenge this adult book with adult themes and adult language. The death and gore and scares were nothing like I ever encountered on television or in movies. Not only was this a coming of age tale of characters battling their inner demons with an actual demon, it expanded my horizons that anything can happen in literature.  After returning this book to my Uncle Pat, he asked how I enjoyed it. I’d said I couldn’t wait to read it again.

Plus, my growing up was done in a household with a mother with an affinity for clowns …




Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe. This book was read three times in my life. The first was in ninth grade, and Mr. Jones, my social studies teacher, said we could read this and take a test for extra credit. I prevailed on both halves of the challenge. The novel is literally filled page-to-page with history and culture. The second and third times reading this book were just as provoking, challenging, and intriguing as the first time. It’s a display and well illustrated of conflicts: man versus man, man versus self, man versus environment, and man versus environment.


A book that was never finished was Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. In the early 2000’s, found it arduous to get through and never finished it. Perhaps, one day, I will. However, Marquez is an excellent writer. This novel taught me several things: 1) finish something you start, regardless how painful it is to get through; 2) relationships are difficult, and there is a good chance there will be more obstacles than joyous moments; 3) love, it might be painful when you experience it, but it’s excruciatingly more painful when you lose it; and 4) chivalry is not dead.


At Swim-Two-Birds by Irish author Brian O’Nolan (as Flann O’Brien) was one of the more surreal, humorous, and perplexing metafiction novels I have read. To mess and challenge myself, I read it after his The Third Policeman, which is another challenge for the imagination. Perhaps he can be attributed as an inspiration for my Thursday pieces at Syracuse New Times, which get stranger and stranger. Regardless, the Irishman is an inspiration to me as far as pushing myself to create fiction and tweak Non-fiction that extends beyond my comfort level.




John Krakauer’s Into the Wild is another one to add to the list, a piece of Non-fiction that reads as if it were fiction. Yes, the book, which stems from the author’s research and article on Christopher McCandless, was eventually made into a movie, but the book is much more poignant. It’s a story about finding oneself, finding enlightenment.


I have to end with another classic: The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway. My father encouraged me to take it on at an early age, and it’s been read a few times since. It’s about chasing your dreams, achieving said dreams, having your success be devoured and taken away from you, but then realizing that you have more life to live — keep doing, keep trying, keep failing, and embrace your success. Life is about experiences and taking something away from each moment.

Elective Affinities

Things, Places Not As They Seem

On Tuesday, my Inevitable Coffee Ring for the post (Finding the Nerve) was clear and simple. It was about the Great New York State Fair, types patrons you would see at the fair were talked about, facing fears and pursuing passions, thrill rides were mentioned, and the moment before the coaster’s speedy descent and travel through the rest of the course.

Today’s ICR’s Espresso Shot is a little different.

I’m obsessed with Rene Magritte. His paintings speak to me, they confuse and inspire and Elective Affinitiestease me. His explanations of each paintings make complete sense. And his Elective Affinities (1933) seemed to be appropriate for this post.

“One night I woke up in a room in which a cage with a bird sleeping in it had been placed. A magnificent error caused me to see an egg in the cage instead of the vanished bird. I then grasped a new and astonishing poetic secret, for the shock which I experienced had been provoked precisely by the affinity of two objects — the cage and the egg – to each other, whereas previously this shock had been caused by my bringing together two object that were unrelated.”

And so the white canvas of WordPress sat in front of me. What can I put together that are completely unrelated?

In Syracuse, we have a mansion on James Street that houses The George & Rebecca Barnes Foundation. Its a wonderful, beautiful mansion and a significant part of history, which includes the Underground Railroad. A friend of mine acquired the foundation’s first Executive Director position, and she asked me to sign on as a grant writer (one of my new projects). Along with two other locally-focused and centered writers, we’re going to keep this foundation afloat and this building standing. There is no use in knocking down a piece of history, which we States folk are so often quick to do. With this piece of history, many events can take place within these walls.

While writing there a couple weeks ago, I took a picture that I wanted to use for a post:



This was taken in the library of the mansion.

Seriously? How beautiful is this one room. I love the symmetry and parallels, the “two” concepts.

With many of my posts, I like to string ideas and themes and concepts together; this is especially true with the Thursday Espresso Shot posts. With the concept of facing your fears and pursuing your passions and thrill rides, the picture of the Ferris wheel that was taken on Sunday was the second picture considered:


So, what if you put both the pictures together?


The Magritte pictures that I’ve placed into today’s post, which is linked at the end include (in random order):

So, you’re going to have to do a little research and a little art gazing.

When you are reading:

  • Keep in part the similarities of the movements of the men, how they are similar. That’s done on purpose.
  • The men are mirrored, and could one be a reflection or projection of another? Is one an older version of the other? The attitudes: calm versus nervous. The perceived ages.
  • The proper etiquette of men not wearing a hat inside.
  • The butler wearing the bowler. Is he really inside?
  • The word cyclical with the picture of the Ferris wheel.
  • Time and location is an obvious one.
  • Again, a den setting versus Ferris wheel car. An egg sitting in a cage.

Grab a beverage. Enjoy. Read. Re-read. Think.

Here’s the link:

The Espresso Shot (#017): The Overlap