About Life, About Mystery

The shop window on Wisconsin Avenue is empty.  Inside the glass room is a door that leads to the darkness.  The combination of this darkness door, the street lights reflected in the glass and the promise that the blank space will be filled up one day again, instills in me a wild excitement.  Truly!

DSCN0169

 

DSCN0182
Madame plaid skirt came up from Chicago. This is the second time she has come to spend her weekend at the Pfister.

 

DSCN0196
Two mothers, two daughters about to see Ariana Grande at the Bradley Center.

 

DSCN0205
They will pose for you, they will show you where the benefit for the Milwaukee Ballet is; and if you shake their hand, you will hold a white handprint with fine glitter dust.

 

DSCN0209
That evening, greco ballet dancers did descend from heaven and pause, inviting me to join them.

 

DSCN0211
The very next day, more models in white were found inside the Pfister.

 

DSCN0214
This is Milwaukee’s Magnificent Bride Exposition.

 

DSCN0228
If I ever marry, this will be the most important decision: The Hats.

 

DSCN0232
Which feather for your ceremony?

 

DSCN0234
They were so in love, their arms disappeared and their heads became flowers.

 

DSCN0235

DSCN0250
Chair Option A by BBJ.

 

DSCN0239
Option B

 

DSCN0240
Option C

 

DSCN0241
Option D, “ghost chairs.”

 

DSCN0243
Option E, “goth chairs.”

 

DSCN0244
Yes.

 

DSCN0261

DSCN0262

DSCN0264

DSCN0266

DSCN0269
I don’t know who these people are, but they sure look good.

 

 

event lady
She’s an event planner.

 

DSCN0249

DSCN0257

11024740_10104013541527487_5040838295014465982_o
Artist John Kowalczyk here, about to officiate his second wedding.

 

 

10983555_10104013540284977_1196568769441363068_o
He told me he did a lot of googling, cutting and pasting to figure out what he needed to say. “The first wedding I did, there was no God talk at all.” This time he has to recite an entire list each time the divine gets brought up in the ceremony. “In the presence of friends, family, God, Gods, Goddesses, Buddhas, Bodhisattvas and All that is Holy… or something like that.”

 

 

DSCN0298
Art intern for Niki Johnson, smiling her way down the corridor.
DSCN0297
At the wine tasting the following flavors are found and named: peach butter blossom, honey suckle, pound cake, sour apple, crisp autumn air, under the park bench.
DSCN0304
I meet Katrina.
DSCN0303
She wants a poem, “About life, about mystery.”
about life, about mystery
Yes, I know I misspelled “after taste” and  “connoisseur.”

 

DSCN0308

DSCN0313
Lastly, Sean from indianapolis (who loves golf) will only let me take his picture if he can take mine at the same time.

 

 

 

What I’m Whytching in the Pfister

Concierge Peter suggests

we all need to practice

“whytching,”

watching our surroundings

while wondering why,

or how is it like that?

To behave like the elated toddler

who discovers everything is dimensional:

it can be crawled over, pulled, pushed

bitten and unraveled to reveal

what is at the end,

and why it was rolled up and put away.

DSCN9274
Whytching reveals that a dental equipment extravaganza is occurring on the 7th floor.

 

I whytch the herd of twenty blue hoodies

with grey sweat pants slinking past,

every one of them six feet or much taller,

calling out to each other in male voices

aged by two decades of Gatorade consumption,

I know because I see a bottle of it

through the mesh of their backpack pockets.

I don’t have to harass them with inquiry

to surmise that they are a college basketball team

and that the man of middle years accompanying them

with shirt and pants made out of sweat fabric and drawstrings

is their coach.

DSCN9304

Whytch the flowers being rolled in on a cart,

the lobby’s living color changes most every day

I wonder does this change reflect the mood

of the florist and then become the hotel’s mood?

Or does the mood of the hotel determine

the florist’s choice of the flowers?

Either way it does not feel as emotionally purple here

as it did yesterday when the flowers all spoke violet.

DSCN9294

Whytching reveals patterns.

There’s Joe with his coffee and subprime mortgage lecture at the bar again!

There’s Monette who comes here every week for the caesar salad,

though today it appears she is just having a tall glass of water

and an earful of subprime mortgage talk.

DSCN9321
Monette and her tall glass of water.

 

Practicing whytching is imperative

for excellent eyesight,

c’mon, stretch your eyeballs out

and learn:

lanyards = business conference

leather satchel = business lunch in the café

backpack = brief overnight stay

sunglasses walking down the hall = leave me alone I am famous

red tie = high achieving business person (usually man)

DSCN9288
Theorizing on the landing.

 

Whytching demands theorizing

yet suggests no conclusion,

life is learning, death is knowing

maybe

I have never been dead except

when I fail to whytch,

when I grumble and pucker,

staring at the skin on my arm

without seeing the hairs, pores, freckles,

the mysterious red spots

or appreciating the scent of wrist.

Wrists smell in their own way

unlike anything else.

Just whytch.

DSCN9280
Closeup of a dental equipment poster.

 

Someone takes the steps,

climbing two at a time

dipping the tall reed of their person

in rhythmic appreciation

of this marble terrain.

DSCN9317

Someone else runs up the steps

with swift anticipation

for a new location,

an urgent duty,

to be not here

but there.

DSCN9277

Those who practice whytching

generally acknowledge

she who types on the landing (me).

Those who love whytching

more than anything else

will hand me a hello.

DSCN9311
Whytch carefully, and you will see me in this picture.

 

Let’s make a pact:

don’t be too fast for manners

and I won’t be so slow

that I preach,

instructing you what to do

except, please,

be whytchful.

Pin the Eagle On the Mother






Five moments of learning from the past week at the Pfister.

 

1.

A kid from Chicago comes to my typewriter and gawks. I allow him to type whatever he wants:

“HAa Liamisthe greatest Pat and Kerianne suck and wish they could do this hahah”

DSCN7970


DSCN7965

 

2.

A girl comes up and I also explain the typewriter to her as she has never seen one before. She tells me that she didn’t realize it came with a keyboard, sovaldi she just thought it was a machine that cut paper.

DSCN7912

3.

An able-bodied man is admiring a painting in the seventh floor.

 

Man: Sometime I want to rent one of those walkers with the seats and go to the Milwaukee Art Museum so that I can just sit in front of the paintings.

 

Me: Well, capsule I’m sure they wouldn’t say no to you if you wanted to rent one.

 

Man: But then I’d look like I’d need it. (Pauses) Well, maybe one day I will.

 

4.

I order just the bone marrow

without the bread.

is that too weird?

 

Elizabeth, my waitress says,

“Nothing is too weird to order at the Mason Street Grill. There is a vegetarian woman who comes here all the time ordering just a plain baked potato with broccoli.”

 

The Mason Street Grill’s lighting is the color of gravy.

Were I a vegetarian I would come here just to satisfy my carnivorous cravings

with a plain baked potato in this restaurant illuminated by steak essence

without betraying my principles.

 

I have a spot at the chef’s counter.

Close exposure to the sizzle and clang of the kitchen

makes dinner much more exciting

these cooks know they are on stage

they grind pepper with great ceremony

they cut pizza with broad sweeping gestures

one usually reserves for ironing a king size bed sheet.

DSCN7927
She is very aware of her audience.

 

I watch steak after steak leaving the kitchen.

Before they depart they are dribbled with white sauce

and resembled chocolate cake with vanilla frosting.

 

When my bones come out, I am surprised and delighted to see that they come with a just arugula salad.  The significance of which you will understand if you read this story.

 

Anyways, Elizabeth looks at the bones on my plate

and tells me,

“You know in Columbia we make a soup with bones like that. Sancocho soup! We put in plantains, corn on the cob, real cilantro (that’s our secret, it turns it green), potato and bone marrow with the oxtails. The plantain has to be green, those sweet ripe kind are for frying.”

 

Elizabeth admits the friendly, unique, polite people of Wisconsin

tip her extra for having an accent.

Moving here four years ago

she feared she might not survive the cold

but she had to live here,

after she had visited Summerfest

she knew she had to stay.

She had to learn how to drive in the snow.

 

5.

Lillian at Coat Check tells me that one of her sons became an Eagle Scout at age 12, which is unusually young. At the Eagle Scout award ceremony it is customary for the new Eagle Scout to present and attach an eagle pin on their mother. Lillian’s son fumbled and avoided making contact to her blouse with the pin. She asked him what was wrong and he said, “I don’t want you to burst!” Lillian was very pregnant at the time.

DSCN7962
This relates to nothing else, but these two people got married yesterday.

Tuesday Afternoon Reverie

It is 2:21 p.m. and here’s what is going down:  a recording of violin music saturates the air.  Someone walks past hauling a 2.88 (or so) foot long camcorder.  The fronds of a palm tree sensuously caress the south column.  A security guard carefully explains how to get to the Metro Market to a hotel guest.  I estimate the guest to be about thirty years old by the way he has trimmed his beard. Another man in a baseball cap asks me if I am typing a letter to my mother, cialis I am not.  I am writing a letter to the hotel lobby, or rather what is happening inside it, since the lobby itself might not be sentient in the way that you and I are.  If it were though, I’d feel sorry for the rug.  Here is this exquisite rug placed on top of the ornate wall-to-wall carpeting and people just walk right over it without respectfully acknowledging the brief yet fantastic change of terrain.

DSCN5549
Behold.

This is a place where no matter where you look there is something that you can get lost dazing into. I am going to stop typing now so that I may enter reverie as I consider the spatial delights experienced by the light emanating from all the electrical fixtures.  I consider the spatial tension that exists between the empty chairs at the top of the stairs.  If you stick around in this place long enough you will hear each quarter of the hour marked by the dingdong chime of a grandfather clock.  Today I’ve typed here long enough to see a ball bearing pop off my typewriter and roll down the marble steps.  The steps here remind me of salami.  How delicious!

DSCN5557
Genoa salami is my favorite, perhaps but this looks a little more like capicola.

 

A man descends the stairs and I notice that he has clipped his sunglasses to the backside of his turtleneck collar.  I have never seen anyone keep their sunglasses snug against their neck vertebrae like that before.  Someone loudly asks, “Anymore gifts?”  Their companion loudly replies, “We are up to $1500,000 now.” People wheel their baggage through.  It is funny to think about how 20 years ago all this luggage would have been lugged in without wheels.  When I was a kid it still had not occurred to society to put wheels on suitcases. We have come a long way.  I leave my typewriter to go sit by the fire for a while.  My eyes close.  Val, the bartender asks if I want anything, but no, I just want to sit by the fire.  “That’s fine, people have been doing that since 1893,” says Val.  As I sit I hear a pair of middle-aged women in the midst of some profuse giggling.  I walk over to them.  Pam & Kate explain how they just got back from a Photoshop conference and are now feeling giddy.  The Happy Hour has descended.  Roc at the desk has told me that the lobby bar is where Marilyn Monroe liked to sip her drinks.  The stairwell is where Elvis Presley stood to graciously wave at everyone.  Roc himself spent an hour and a half discussing international politics with Margaret Thatcher.  Roc also said, “The hotel never used to allow dogs in here like they do now.  Dogs love the elevator here! Each floor has it’s own bouquet of smells that the dog catches whiff of as they go past in the elevator. I wish you could interview a dog and get them to tell you what it is that they smell on each floor.”  Hmm, good idea.