Friday, February 28, 2014


"Here's the thing you gotta know about clothes," I say to my unborn son or daughter, whom I'm sure will someday be as awkward as I was (and continue to be). I'm having this conversation, as one does, while plowing through the morning commuter crowd in Union Square, the lot of us crashing headlong through the tunnels underground.

"Clothes," I continue, thinking of the loose-knit, cowl-neck sweater I'm wearing today that I never would have dared wear a few years ago, "are not something that tells people who you are. You can use them to fib, tell little white lies, about who you want people to think you are."

Thursday, February 27, 2014


My father moved us out to Arizona when I was six, claiming that he would never shovel another snowy driveway again. I think about this as I walk the streets of my adopted home, while the wind whistles past my ears and the freezing cold tries to dig its broken fingernails into the chinks in my armor to rip it away and gnaw the warmth from my bones.

I'm not scared, probably because I don't know enough to be scared, because growing up all I knew was that death didn't come from the cold, but from heat. Heat was dust, and thirst, and filth, the sun and sweat and burning that leeched the life and color out of the world, while cold was a cool shower, shade, rain coming off the mountains, a swimming pool, snow above the Catalina foothills, a drink of water that kept you alive.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Maternal Wisdom

"You can go to your high school reunion," my mom says. Her hair has gotten very long, and it frames her aged, but still-beautiful face in long, white-ish blonde strands, and her eyes are sharp in her mobile features. "I think, though, you will find that to be an error," she finishes, carefully enunciating her thought (which is where I get it, I guess).

"The people who ignored you will still ignore you," she continues, "and the cliques will just go on... clique-ing."

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

The Homestead Inside

He's standing there, in front of the class, short and pudgy, in his glasses and his dark gray pin stripe suit, his thinning blond-gone-white hair and his pink complexion. He speaks corporate words that are not important, and I've heard them all before.

But when I look at him, I see where he's from, like the smell of him is a place, even though I can't smell him: a field somewhere in the midwest, on a farm maybe, with sunshine on it, living green with yellow flowers, the sky so blue you can taste it.

I wonder if he knows that he has such a place inside him, and I hope he visits it sometimes, when the corporate words turn to trash on his tongue.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Dinner and a Show

After the delightful dinner with friends, we walk through the charming West Village neighborhood, soaking in all the cute stoops and lovely front rooms (all open and uncurtained to the streets), when I stop short.

"They're having sex," I say, and indeed they are, across the street in one of the houses, standing no less, naked and pumping away in full view of the (admittedly low traffic side-)street. They are barely obscene, despite being framed in the window quite in flagrante delicto, since they are mashed so close together that no naked parts are really showing, and we watch them for quite some time until the gentleman apparently finishes up and notices us peeping.

We hurry away, giggling, and Katie says, "Well there may be no sex in the champagne room, but there certainly is in the parlor."

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Worst Cabbie Yet

Our taxi driver drives like the ocean, in surges and waves that rock us to and fro in the back seat. Katie and I exchange glances as he answers his phone (on speaker, so I guess it's technically okay?) and begins rattling off rapid phrases punctuated by a hoarse, barking laugh.

Apparently green lights mean something else where he is originally from, because he slows down at each one, hesitating before gunning it through the intersection, until we're both feeling nauseated.

"I don't think he's good enough to be on the phone and driving," Katie says, as he gooses the gas, slows, and the engine flutters, then roars.

Anatomy of a Petting

As the Bernese Mountain Dog trots towards us, heading in the opposite direction, tongue hanging out, dopey expression typical of the breed, Katie leans sideways, her fingers outspread at exactly dog height. I've already switched sides with her, so that she's perfectly positioned for her act of non-sexual doggie frottage.

We continue walking, and she strokes the dog its entire length in one smooth swoop. The dog looks back with a slightly confused expression, the owner unaware of the trespass, and we walk on without a second glance.

Friday, February 21, 2014


"I didn't tell him that," she says of a co-worker, "because something like that is like a gift I can give, and he doesn't deserve it."

I laugh. "The level of spite going on there...," I begin.

"I would pull out my own teeth and leave them on his desk if I thought that it would hurt him physically," she interrupts.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Mysophobia is Occasional Common Sense

"Great, come on back," I say shaking the hand of the candidate as he stands to greet me.

As we walk through the maze of the office to his interview, I inquire about his health, since we had to reschedule an earlier appointment due to his illness.

"Oh I'm okay," he rasps, "but you know this flu really took it out of me."

I nod in agreement, chat a little more, drop him off at his interview, and make a beeline for the sink to wash my hands.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

It Means Something

"So you never got together with her?" I ask after my second glass of wine, and, more importantly, his. I know he will speak the truth.

"No, I mean neither of us is into one-night-stands...," he begins.

"Hey, just because it only happens once doesn't necessarily make it a one-night-stand," I interrupt.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Not All That Great a Door, Really, Either

Two guys stand in the doors of the subway, shoulder to shoulder, facing the interior of the car, unmoving, when the car pulls into the station. People getting on and off the car are forced to squeeze between their stocky, inert forms, and they seem not only to not notice, but to aggressively not care.

Once I'm on the train, I observe them carefully: two latino guys, roughly the same height, both maybe in construction, stained pants, heavy boots well-worn, hats and hooded sweatshirts.

I think of all the ways I might tell them off ("nice place to stand, jagweeds," or "wanna get out of the way?") but when we come into the next stop, they get off the train without even looking at each other, and I realize they probably didn't even know each other, and were just standing like that.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Everyone Should Be So Lucky

"I wonder if she remembers being a stray," Katie muses, watching the cat circle the kitchen mewing at the injustice of an empty plate.

"I doubt it."

"Yeah, I think we're probably the worst thing that ever happened to her," Katie says as I put down fresh food and scratch behind the cat's ears. "It's what every parent wants."

Nothing to Report

On my way to the grocery store to pick up more cooking oil, I find myself sulking a little, thinking things over.

"Sure, you're doing the blog, but when's the last time you worked on the novel? It's been almost a month," I think, stepping through the metal posts that prevent people from stealing carts.

I start noticing details as I go: clear night, cold wind, thin jacket, as if I know that this is the moment I want to remember, for some reason.

The Kid Ran Into Something, and it Wasn't Just the Cold

It's still snowing, and finally starting to stick as the sun gives up and heads west where "somebody will appreciate me, goddammit," when I get the text.

- Look out your window. I am the Wampa across the street in about 1 min. -

Sure enough, there's my friend, in a heavy coat and fisherman's cap that makes him look like a steam freighter captain, and when he looks up and sees me, warm in my home, he gives a little wave.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

The Vagaries of Memory

"Oh man, that's great," I laugh, trudging through the wet muck aftermath of melting ice and slush. "That's my four each day. I have to write that down as soon as I get to work."

But the rhythms of the everyday take over, gliding me through work and commute and home and TV, and by the time I'm sitting down at night, ready to write, there's nothing left but the memory of something I ought to have written: a string tied around a finger, reminding me to do something, but just what I can't recall.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Time Travel Weather

The snow comes down so heavy and fast that, by the time I've walked a block, I'm covered in ice. I knock off the crust and keep going.

I try to look up from watching my feet, but visibility is almost nil. A car, muted contours muffled in white, grinds down a side street that could be from anywhere, anytime, 1950, 1980, New York, Indiana, and I put my head down again, trudging onwards.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

We Are Conspicuous At the Comedy Show

The bald, older, white guy steps up and places his glass on our table. "You guys are in trouble," he says, indicating our close proximity to the stage.

"I went to this same show, five years ago, and the comedian," he swipes his pate with a meaty palm, "he saw this, and it was over."

When Katie walks up, he reels back in disbelief, saying, "And a redhead!"

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Meeting, The Other

"I don't understand that sentence," she says, grinding the meeting, once again, to a halt. I am surprised at the rage that surges up from my chest into my head at her perfectly reasonable questions, but I keep my mouth shut and try to listen to what she has to say.

Later, as I look from person to person in the room, I realize that I am in there with three other people, who are real, and who have feelings and thoughts that I may never really know. A cold thrill threads its way through my gut, exhilarating and scary, and I find myself watching their hands, their faces, wondering at them, amazed at our being alive.

Monday, February 10, 2014

I've Got the Look (How Do I Get Rid of It?)

She stands on the train, tall, redheaded with that pale orangey cast to her skin that some of them have. Her jacket hangs open, the deep plunge on her blouse shadowing and teasing more skin within.

But her eyes are tired and dead, and she peers down to her electronic reader, revealing a double chin that makes her seem older than she is, or should be.

Unbidden, an image of her in a "sexy" pose (that doesn't really suit her) congeals in my mind, and I feel sorry for both of us: her, for having to deal with me and my dumb animal gaze, and me, for the same reason.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

The Longest Joke Ends When You Die

As usual, Katie doesn't stop, continuing her silly dance until I turn around to see her and laugh.

"Nice work, committing to the bit," I say. "It really is your strength."

"Yeah," she agrees, "like staying married."

You Kiss Your Toddler With That Mouth?

"...because he doesn't know what the fuck he's talking about!" the guy loading the toddler into the backseat of his car shouts. We pause, mid-weave on our way back home from the bar, more startled than anything else. 

Straightening up from where he's hunched over, he sees us see him, and we, like good New Yorkers, take a mental snapshot of the scene and keep it moving, up the stairs into our apartment.

"Yeah, have some kids and then come talk to me," he says to our retreating backs as we go in, perhaps trying to stave off some judgement from us that wasn't there. 

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Snow Walk

I stride past the woman teetering on the ice that's piled up around the street corners, and I find myself wondering at my impatience. Why do I need to walk at a particular speed, faster than her (in difficulty though she may be), but slower than this guy whose footsteps I hear coming up quickly behind?

I slow my stroll on the mostly clear sidewalks, but there's still a lot of snow, shoved in shovel-high drifts at the curbs, solid as rock and mogulled with footprints. The guy passes me, and I know the ice won't melt for a long time, months, maybe not even until spring.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Low Blood Sugar Blues

I walk in the door after work and shed my tie and button-down, my flat-front pants, changing into my workout shorts and a t-shirt to do yoga.

But instead of yoga, I end up staring into the internet, scrolling through Facebook, watching videos, anything but getting on the mat.

When I finally do settle down for my evening session, I'm shaky and I can't focus, and I lack all motivation, even to do the things that I know will rid me of this sense of unease.

As I'm doing my third round of sun salutation, I try to remember what I've eaten today and realize, almost nothing.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

My Boots Make Me a God

"My boots are so awesome," I tell Katie, now that we're home and safely in our warm kitchen, out of the gross puddles and icy sidewalks that felled lesser mortals with inferior footwear.

"I know," she says. "I felt like I had superpowers."

"I am a titan!" I cry exultantly.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Thankless Work

The woman is bent almost double, scraping at the frozen sidewalk with a snow shovel, peeling up the slick ice in sheets.

She looks up as I walk by, trying to stay out of everyone's way as we come home from our evening commute.

"Sorry," she murmurs, her voice breathy from exertion.

"Thanks," I say, meaning, for your service, for cleaning up the sidewalk, but I realize how it could sound.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Intellectual Conversation

In order to stop her from poking me, I've resorted to laying on top of my wife, using my weight to pin her arms to her sides while she wriggles and laughs.

"You're like a baby giraffe," she says, giggling. "With your black tongue and your weird, alien nubs on top of your head."

She pounds me on the back like I'm some sort of horse, shouting, "Your mother was a zookeeper and your father was a giraffe!"

Timor Mortis Conturbat Me

I'm on the can, scanning the news on my phone, when I read he's gone, and the sudden stab of loss slips the phone from my fingers to thud on the rug. I chide myself for an overdramatic fool and pick it up to read the familiar story again: talent, hard work, drug use into abuse into rehab, overdose.

I remember meeting him once, before he'd done more than, I don't know, two movies maybe, shaking his hand, telling him how truly great I thought he was.

Later, as I'm walking down the street to pick up laundry, I think about the decision somebody makes - him, me, anybody - to go do that one thing you can't help doing, not knowing that this time, this is the time it kills you, steals you from the world and the people that love you, leaving the world a poorer, sadder place.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Sometimes These Things Practically Write Themselves

While we stand at the stoplight, the woman jogs by and stops just in front of us bouncing, running in place. She looks like your typical winter jogger - black tights, black tight top made of spongy-looking, wetsuit type material, bright shoelaces on styrofoam and space-age materials shoes.

Katie steps forward without a word, and gently, precisely, plucks a single thick string off the back of the woman's top without actually touching her.

She steps back to my side, satisfied look on her face, twisting the string between her forefinger and thumb, and I shake my head, saying, "Well, there's my four each day."

Saturday, February 1, 2014

The Gift

I wake, as I have for the last 4 days, at 6:30, give or take. I pick up my phone, check the time, sip water to soothe my scratchy morning throat from the straw in the big plastic cup I keep on my bedside table.

There's a moment when I consider just rolling over and napping until my alarm goes off in half an hour, but I hear a voice (it's my own) saying to me, "Don't go back to sleep."

'You wanted to get more done, and you're given a gift like this." the voice (still mine) continues, "so you'd better just get up and write," and so I do.