I guess the introductory paragraph is where I joke about how amazing it is that this post doesn’t concern Sonic Youth.


What most of my readers don’t know–’cause they haven’t asked, and I ain’t told–is that this blog is pretty much where I put my decompression pieces, those bits of writing I scribble at when my heavy duties get to be too much. By “heavy duties,” I mean my novels and poetry. (Yeah, I actually create my own universes, in addition to commenting on those crafted by other more skilled artisans.)

Anyway, I wrote this last Friday and it’s about time I got it up.


Man…I spent almost all my half hour waiting for the train tryin‘ to elucidate on paper why a cardinal flying across my field of vision while I was walking to the station stole my senses for a second but all I could muster was a series of viciously unreadable run-on sentences, ala this one.


My mom loves cardinals. ‘Round here you don’t see ’em much. But she’s KY bnb, and that’s the state bird. I grew to love them too, mainly ’cause they’re redbirds, and thus more striking than the plain ol’ robins and crows that tend to alight onto western Maryland.

My mother has a birdbath in her backyard, one she can see standing at the kitchen sink. Robins were the most frequent visitors. Some other unspectacular types. Not many cardinals. Or blue jays, for that matter.

Not long after my father died, nearly three years ago, a cardinal came by. Every day for two weeks, a frequency unprecedented to my mom’s eyes.

Not long after my father died, my oldest sister, who like our mother has a substantial collection of sundries featuring the redbird, noticed cardinals flitting around her garden for several weeks. Again, seeing just one or two a week was pretty special. But two or three in a day?

When I decided to move to Frederick last month, Mom drove me out to view a potential apartment. Top half of a house, no utilities due, near a historic, gorgeous, vibrant downtown. I was so taken by the possibility of escaping Hagerstown at long last that my apprehension accelerated and I began to voice a thousand reasons why it wouldn’t work out.

Mom was steering us down Alternate Route 40, just like every weekday since I’d started work in Frederick. I had worked myself into a lather, speechless from rage at imagined setbacks, tears streaming down my splotchy face.

A cardinal flew across the car. Close enough to make out the gray on its breast. In the two months Mom had been taking me to and from work, we never saw no goddamn cardinals.

Mom said it was a sign. I have always believed in spirits and spiritual guidance of both a positive and negative nature, way before my father passed. So I must admit it shocked me out of my sorrow. A bit.

I got the apartment.

I lost my job.

My first week in Frederick, I was a wreck no one was slowing down to gawk at. I loved my new place; great location, great neighbors. But; no income, no phone. Family helped of course, but loans from your kin is just receiving welfare from a government that loves you very much.

I walked every day, keeping my metabolism boosted, building leg muscle, soaking up the sun in a very non-Sheryl Crow manner, and wondered if I’d ever get the chance to fully enjoy all the shops and restaurants I strolled by and gazed into. Everything looked appealing. Except my future.

It was only a week after settling in when my feet turned me down the end of my block towards Laboring Sons Alley. My mind was no doubt suffused with some self-doubting/loathing/immolating bullshit when a cardinal flew out in front of me. First one I’d seen since moving, and I spent fucking hours outside, using exercise as an anti-psychotic medication.

Today I’m heading to DC for job training. I’m type crazed–training in the capital, job split between Frederick and Gaithersburg. Lotsa travel. Lotsa room for error.

Walking to the MARC station this morning, I passed by Laboring Sons Alley. It was a bit after 6, and my urge to vomit billowy waves had just passed. I tried to replace all the worst-case scenarios doing an HB stomp in my gourd with best-case (or rather, “likely”) ones.

A cardinal flew out right in front of me, and settled on a phone pole across the street. Second one I’ve seen since moving here.

Coincidence my big ass.

I don’t know how it’s gonna work out, my life. But it will.