Monday, December 12, 2016

the capabilities of moonstone

"What sort of stone is that?"  His knees had been irritatingly close to mine, his seat perpendicular to the one where I sat, book in hand, headphones in.  Through Yo La Tengo, I heard him speak to me.

I told him I thought it was moonstone, though I'm not really sure.  I've gotten compliments on this ring before, a large silver ring on the middle finger of my right hand.  During a trip to the Wellfleet flea market during the first summer I went to Cape Cod with Kevin and his family, I mentioned I'd been on the hunt for a new ring to Kevin and twenty minutes later and twenty dollars poorer, the ring was mine.  I've worn it pretty much every day since.  A few years ago, I decided maybe I needed to change "my look" up a bit and rotate through some other jewelry.  Kevin noticed I wasn't wearing the ring he'd given me within an hour and back on my finger it went.  To be honest, I felt strange not wearing it.  Even though he gave me a much shinier ring a year ago, I still love to wear the oversized one on my right hand.

But I digress; back to this morning.  The gentleman complimented my ring and then asked what capabilities and benefits the moonstone had.  I am not up on my crystals so I laughed ignorantly and told him I've been feeling good since I've been wearing it but that I didn't know the specifics.  "Men don't wear moonstone, right?" was his next question.  I shrugged in response.

Of course, I had to look up the properties of moonstone when I got to my desk.  I clicked on the first search result and found myself on

Legendary as the Traveler's Stone, Moonstone is especially protective of those who travel by night or upon the water when the moon is shining. Frequent travelers should keep one in the glove compartment... Moonstone opens the heart to nurturing qualities as well as assisting in the acceptance of love. It is an excellent crystal for first or new love.

Go figure.

The man on the train pulled an amethyst out of his pocket and when I told him it was my birthstone, he thought for a moment and said, "Aquarius?"  The amethyst is good for the upper chakras, apparently, and he finds that he brings him calm.  We agreed that it was probably New York City that made us so stressed out all the time.  "The city is full of positive ions, but negative ions are the ones we need," he told me.  That's why he lives near the beach.  More relaxing, better energy, cleaner air.  I agreed that I've always felt more calm when I'm close to bodies of water.  It took me years to define the peace that permeates me when I wake up close to the sea.  My running routes always took me along the East River, and I always stop to stretch at the lake in Prospect Park.  Something about the water makes me still.

He asked if I was from New York originally and when I told him I came from Ireland, he looked at me thoughtfully.  "You should go to Coney Island, you really should.  It would be cold but it's a wonderful place."

When the train arrived at Jay Street, he wished me a good day and stepped onto the platform.  I've been thinking about Coney Island ever since.

Thursday, February 11, 2016


I have been savoring this novel for the past few weeks, not wanting the story to end.  Adichie has, once again, given me so much to think about.  A woman stopped me as I exited the 7 train this morning, the worn book in my gloved hand.  "That's a really good book," she said, her words accented and musical.  "The part about Obinze, though... that was really depressing."

That storyline was depressing, no doubt, but the part that has depressed me the most so far is the characters' reaction to Barack Obama's nomination and eventual election.  Reading it, I recalled my own feelings of hope, elation, and even disbelief in those weeks before and after the 2008 election.  In some ways, they feel so distant now.  A colleague coincidentally pointed me to this editorial by David Brooks published earlier this week, and the collision of my reading this novel and Brooks' editorial is just too timely, in our current political climate, to ignore.

This book has been a depressing, thoughtful, heartfelt read.  I am dreading the last page.

"It puzzled him that she did not mourn all the things she could have been. Was it a quality inherent in women, or did they just learn to shield their personal regrets, to suspend their lives, subsume themselves in child care?"


"When Philip complained about the French couple building a house next to his in Cornwall, Emenike asked, 'Are they between you and the sunset?'
Are they between you and the sunset? It would never occur to Obinze, or to anybody he had grown up with, to ask a question like that."


"She was absorbed and moved by the man she met in those pages, an inquiring and intelligent man, a kind man, a man so utterly, helplessly, winningly humane.  He reminded her of Obinze's expression for people he liked.  Obi ocha.  A clean heart.  She believed Barack Obama.  When Blaine came home, she sat at the dining table, watching him chop fresh basil in the kitchen, and said, 'If only the man who wrote this book could be the president of America'."

From Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adcihie

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

my struggle, book one.

"I liked it though, I had always liked staying the night with other families, having your own room with a freshly made bed, full of unfamiliar objects, with a towel and washcloth nicely laid out, and from there straight into the heart of family life, despite there always being, no matter whom I visited, an uncomfortable side, because even though people always try to keep any existing tensions in the background whenever guests are present, the tensions are still noticeable, and you can never know if it is your presence that has caused them or whether they are just there and indeed your presence is helping to suppress them.  A third possibility is, of course, that all these tensions were just tensions that lived their own lives in my head."

From My Struggle by Karl Ove Knausgaard