Tuesday, November 30, 2010

11/29/10 Supplemental - eat what's in front of you

After my bragging about vegetarianism in my previous post, it seems only fitting that I would manage to slip up.

In my hurry and slightly sleepy state while preparing to leave for work in the morning, I picked up the wrong gravy to go with my leftover tofurky. I was only alerted to my mistake after tasting the crunch of peppercorns (which I didn't add to my non-organ meat, vegetarian gravy).

I looked down at the brown sauce, which entirely covered my fake meat lunch, and thought for about five seconds before tucking back in. It was delicious, and frankly, it's not like I had a second lunch sitting around somewhere for me to eat if this one didn't work out.

11/30/10 Wound up

About 2 years ago, the writer of a show I was in handed me a copy of Murakami's The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, and told me it was his favorite book. He and I had been getting to know each other, had discovered some common love of weirdness and artiness, and I believe this book was both a gesture of potential friendship, and a test, which I failed miserably.

I found I couldn't get through it, mostly because I kept waiting for something to happen, and it never really did. If anybody feels like commenting, could you please tell me why you think I should give this book another chance, or if I was right in my initial assessment?

11/29/10 Even kids aren't really that much of an accomplishment

After a long conversation with a friend about the relatively small amount I've accomplished in my life, I'm melancholy. I lay in bed with my wife, and wonder if there's anything lasting I've made in my life, and think about all the projects I've abandoned.

Katie shows me a picture of a kid looking at a Christmas tree, explaining, "Babies and Christmas."

She adds, "Kid's not even that cute when he turns around."

Monday, November 29, 2010

11/28/10 Falling

This side street of Park Slope goes quiet. The holiday weekend, the sheer Sunday-ness of it all, it all boils down to this stillness, broken only by the sound of my shoes tapping on the sidewalk as I make my way to a friend's house for birthday brunch and sweet, sweet mimosas.

My vision, my ability to see, seems to expand until I feel like I can take in everything in front of me: the almost-bare trees, the washed-out-blue, cloud-chased sky, the crazy tilted sidewalk, the cars lining the street, the space all of these things fill, the ground of their being.

Above me in an apartment, someone begins to play an inexpert, but heartfelt "Rhapsody in Blue" on their piano, and the notes drift down from the open window, swirling around me like falling leaves.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

11/27/10 We tend to do better at parallel play

After my fourth continue, I finally throw the controller down in disgust. "Listen," I say, "just try to get through the boss by yourself. It'll be more fun for you."

Katie battles on against one of Bowser's minions for a while longer before she gives up, but she really wanted to try to work with me on this, and I silently vow to polish up my Mario skills to make game night more successful in the future.

Friday, November 26, 2010

11/26/10 It was delicious (they tell me)

Though I have claimed vegetarianism for upwards of 15 years now (I can count on one hand the number of times I've eaten meat since 1994), today my hands still smell of roasted bird from the turkey I helped prepare yesterday.

It's a very strange situation, being married to a confirmed, enthusiastic, and unrepentant carnivore. The constant confrontation with your own values that occurs when you are around those that don't share them requires both a flexibility (in order to not judge or feel superior), and a sense of humor, because you will be made fun of and intentionally, humorously provoked.

Plus, I like to cook, so I have learned the finer points of meat preparation for a woman whose favorite meals include, quote, "the tears of the innocent," while never tasting the things I help make.

11/25/10 everyone

He stands in front of the bank, shifting from foot to foot, his face a mask of pitiful hope, while his eyes calculate every passerby. I'm trying not to ignore things, but I know if I make eye contact, I'll raise his expectations, so I walk toward the curb and let him accost another pedestrian with his "Happy Thanksgiving" that sounds like a curse.

As I cross the street, a little boy on the other side of the street scoots up to the crosswalk. "Candy for everyone!" he shouts, his arm sweeping to include me, the beggar in front of the bank, the gray November afternoon, Brooklyn, the world.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

11/24/10 Who really runs this joint.

The cat wanders the rooms of our (to her) incomprehensibly huge apartment, yowling in her wailing-baby voice. When I finally make my way into the room where she normally sleeps, I discover the window has been left open, and a chill breeze blows over the perch where she keeps a bored eye on the street below.

She watches me reproachfully, legs curled up beneath her, from underneath the table, as I stumble over to the window and close it after only three attempts.

Her wishes granted, she stands, arches her back, and trots to the litter box, claws clicking contempt on the wood floor, to let me know exactly what she thinks of my shoddy management of the home where she is, obviously, an unwilling prisoner.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

11/23/10 crossing paths

She stands at the crosswalk, a little ways out into traffic: slim, fashionably dressed in all black without ostentation, long, fine straight black hair, pretty face, light brown skin, middle-eastern of some sort.

He runs from down the street, obviously on his way from somewhere to somewhere else: black baseball cap at a rakish angle, open, honest face, also in all black, also light brown skin.

He pauses in his run, touches her on the shoulder, looks sincerely into her eyes, says, "Hey, I really like your hair." and then continues running past us up the street without looking back.

"Thanks," she says lightly, without seeming to be fazed at all (do men do this all the time? do they know each other?), the light turns green, we all cross the street, different directions away from this moment.

Monday, November 22, 2010

11/22/10 snapshots of a commute

A guy in a wide brimmed hat stands up on the train, says, "Excuse me," to me before we reach the stop, and I tell him I'm getting out too, just so he'll relax a little. When we get West Fourth, however, I realize it's not my stop, and I pretend I'm getting out after him, only to get back on to continue my ride to work.

Walking down the tunnel, a man reading a paper steps in a pink and white splatter of vomit, but he doesn't notice and continues on his way, trailing wet footprints on the stones.

In Grand Central, a traditional Peruvian band plays "The Old Rugged Cross" on the pan flutes, and I emerge into the grey New York morning, giggling to myself.

11/21/10 A little forceful

Kevin and I stand outside the movie theater in Union Square while Kev rolls a cigarette and Katie finishes a phone call with her father. A stumbling, slurring bald black man in sweats rolls up to us and asks for change? a smoke? something unintelligible through a haze of alcohol that I can smell from 3 feet away. I put up my hand, look him in the eye, say, "Sorry, man" and return to my conversation, and Kevin apologizes for not having anything to give to him.

The man's eyes widen in surprise, and as he staggers away I hear him say, "Man, I wouldn't a minded you didn't have nothing, but that guy [indicating me] was serious!"

Sunday, November 21, 2010

11/20/10 The very nice doctor is not a dentist

"Well, when I got out of the shower," the doctor says, finishing his story, "the ants had covered the sandwich! The hotel got me an upgrade, told me they'd never had anything like this before."

He smiles shyly as we laugh with him, and he writes out our prescriptions. He has a small, black something-or-other caught in his teeth, but before I can mention it to him, he's left the examining room to talk to another patient who is wandering the hall of the office.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

11/19/10 late edition

I wander up and down Fulton Mall until I find the place to drop off the package. My cough has gotten increasingly heavy, and my boss has said that after I drop this off, I can head home for the day.

I make it home, hungry and worn out from walking, but I still manage to walk down to get a Vietnamese sandwich, all the while trying to fight off the depression that inevitably hits when I'm sick, tired, and hungry. I realize that I can't kill myself, because it would be like leaving Katie, and that's never going to happen.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

11/18/10 a dream in which I am, perhaps, a secret agent

I skimmed the roofs of the buildings until I came to the end of the row and found myself unable to go further. Stuck, I decided to try to exit through the building I was on by climbing down, only to find that the building was the Latvian embassy, in which a lavish party was beginning, complete with sashed and monocled diplomats and ladies in elaborate, architectural dresses gliding elegantly along marble floors amid gilt ornaments and enormous oil paintings of indeterminate ancestors.

I found my way out into the garden, past the catering tables and onto a manicured lawn, which opened out onto a university campus (which university?) where I started wandering home (which home?) only to realize then that I had no idea where home was.

Two kind people fell in step with me, and, on seeing my distress, asked me, "Don't you have an iPhone with GPS?"; which, it turned out, I did.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

11/17/10 But I have to stand somewhere too

The redheaded dude comes into my car (crossing from another car in the train while it's in motion! such a rebel) and passes behind me. The car isn't crowded, but I move my bag out of his way anyway, and he passes by with a determined look on his face without even a glance in my direction. Being a large person, and somewhat timid growing up, makes me extra-self-conscious of the space I take up.

Tonight, when I go to see a rock concert, I'll be worried about standing in front of people, worried that these short people whom I'll never see again will hate me for blocking their view, and they will take my awkwardness and low-self-esteem for politeness.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

11/16/10 shoulda stayed home and played Zelda one more day

There's a law of diminishing returns that hits hard when you come into work when you're still kind of sick if you don't wait long enough. What happens is, the work that you couldn't do when you were away is still there to do, because you haven't been away for long enough for the crises engendered by your absence to pass, plus, they put off putting a few things on your desk (sending that email, scheduling that meeting) knowing you'd be back, not to mention the day-to-day drama that is still ongoing.

So really, you're dealing with yesterday's shit, the shit that might have been done yesterday but now HAS to be done today, plus today's shit, all in one day. And you feel like there's a heavy stone on your chest and all the Mucinex(tm) in the world can't lift it.

Monday, November 15, 2010

11/15/10 ...and now I've got it too

Go to bed after a very satisfying episode of The Walking Dead (suck it, haters - the acting's great, the story is interesting, and there's a constant sense of creeping dread that's my favorite thing about zombie movies), and immediately feel some strange unrest in my chest. I can breathe and yet I still feel like I'm drowning.

Maybe not drowning exactly, but that low grade ache and anxiety, like I'm still not getting enough oxygen, no matter how deep I breathe.

This morning it sounds like a soup can full of mud and rocks in my chest, and I guiltily call up work, saying "Well, I've got the chest cold Katie had, and I don't want to give it to everybody else."

Sunday, November 14, 2010

11/14/10 She's had a Cold

We walk down Union from the library on a beautiful fall day. The air smells of spice and woodsmoke, and the light is golden beneath a blue sky wisped with high, thin clouds.

I inhale deeply, and say to Katie, "Man, smell that?"

She shakes her head sadly, saying, "All I've been able to smell for the past week is too much Murphy's Oil Soap and the liquor on my maitre d's breath."

Friday, November 12, 2010

11/12/10 Close Enough

A few days of yoga every day and my mood begins to lift, and I feel myself waking up from the weird limbo I've been in.

Reading a review of the new Cee-Lo Green in L Magazine on the B train coming in this morning, I come across the following line: "It might be interesting in theory to hear his take on a different era in pop/R&B, but the neon glaze and MJ basslines of "Bright Lights Bigger City" somehow don't add up to an 80s-worship homerun."

At that exact moment, I catch the strains of a Michael Jackson song leaking out from a nearby woman's headphones. I laugh and smile at the coincidence until I listen for a few more minutes to realize it's "Upside Down" by Diana Ross.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

11/10/10 Contrasts

I sit on the mat in the half-light before the sun comes up, and breathe deeply. My mat faces roughly east, as it has in almost every apartment I've ever lived that suited me at all, and I can see out the windows on the front of our building clouds lit from below by the rising sun shading from a vivid pink to a brilliant gold against a gray sky.

My wedding ring clicks on the wood floor as I shift to a new position in my routine. I never take it off.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

11-9-10 Pie is too nice to be bad for you.

Coring an apple requires a little bit of muscle, a little bit of guessing. Stab straight down and twist, gutting the pulp of the stringy bits and the little black seeds, hand it over to Katie, who then proceeds to peel it in a long, continuous ribbon of red (a skill I've yet to get the hang of).

The Cuisinart spins the halves into perfect slices in seconds, and as watch them pile up, I see a single black seed that I missed. Will it kill us if I don't fish it out?

Monday, November 8, 2010

11-8-10 my mini spooner

The new bowls we got for our wedding are primary colors of yellow and blue - deep, deep cobalt blue, and a cheerful, sunny yellow. I often find myself picking one or the other based on the food that I'm serving, or on the mood I'd like to create in myself with the plate.

"Frosted Mini-spoons" is the best that Malt-o-Meal could come up with for their "Frosted Mini-wheats" rip-off cereal, and while it's not that bad, there's something in the Kellogg's version that has a little more substantial-ness when it comes to milk. The best part was pouring them into a sunny yellow bowl (her favorite color) and thinking about Katie asleep in bed, and the perfect applicability of the term "mini spoons" to her.

Friday, November 5, 2010

11-5-10 Happy drums

After a particularly good rehearsal from which I leave buzzing lightly and newly optimistic about our prospects, Ray and I ride the subways downtown from his place in Harlem. At one stop, two drummers heave into the car, hoisting conga drums and foldable chairs behind them, which they set up in the pseudo-vestibule before beginning their patter.

"Keep the energy up and full of love," says the one in the skullcap with the star of David dangling down onto his forehead while the other adjusts his drums and smiles widely, "because it comes back down to you amplified."

They beat their drums in a groove reminiscent of "Oye Como Va" and I give them a dollar as they leave.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

11-4-10 Even in Park Slope? Really?

She left work at one in the morning, after serving at a private late-night party where Patti Lupone "hugged [her] like [she] was her long lost daughter." I've been up all night watching movies, playing video games, and editing a backing track for a song my band will be playing once we book a gig.

I've been feeling a lot less stressed lately, but as the hour rolls toward 2:00 AM, I start to get paranoid. I lace up my shoes, throw on a jacket, and slip a large pocket knife into my back pocket, and step out into the wet, empty street to go pick her up at the subway station.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

11-3-10 Wake up in the morning feeling like P-diddy

I've gradually set my alarm 5 minutes earlier each week, over the last few weeks, in an attempt to get back into doing a full session of yoga in the morning. This is probably the worst time to do this, since the mornings are getting darker and darker as we edge closer to winter.

This morning I wake up in the darkness, sit up, and Katie rolls over and asks me if I had weird dreams.

I tell her I think I did and wonder out loud why she asks, to which she replies, "Because you talked a lot!"

11-2-10 Acting out (staying in)

When I get home, she's sprawled, half in, half out of the papasan with the Wii remote in her lap. The screen is blank except for the tell-tale cauldron floating in the corner, telling me that she's been playing Lego Harry Potter most of the night.

I know she was upset that I had rehearsal tonight, and when I left she was a little depressed, but she's still depressed, and I'm not sure what to do.

I kiss her on the forehead as she looks up at me with that slightly dazed look that comes from too much gaming, and I say, "Hey baby, how was your night?"

Monday, November 1, 2010

11-1-10 Sous chef rhapsody

She chops the veggies, stirs the cheese and the rice together. I open cans, suggest seasonings, wash the dishes and utensils as she finishes with them.

The kitchen is clean and well lit, warm and bustling as we make dinner. Once again, something I have dreamed of since I was a kid has come true, and the home I have always wanted is that much closer to being real.