Monday, March 31, 2014

Baby Love

The baby stops crying almost immediately after he's lifted from his carriage.

Once he's out, his mother props him up on her lap, and he begins touching the hands of people around him. He has that peculiar totality of focus while he'd doing so that seems to absolve him of any guilt or shame.

He wobbles as he half-stands on his mother's lap, looking around the car with happy, intelligent eyes, his hands in constant motion, ready to spring, looking for some kind of love.

Bonus 4ED; Morocco: 3/20/14 Cynicism

Sunset fades into darkness, and the knot of tension that has tormented me since the souks begins to ease in the isolation of absolute desert.

After yet another dinner of tagine and couscous, we sit on cushions in the rapidly cooling sand dunes and watch the stars come out.

"It's probably just a planet," I say, as Katie points out the first point of light.

"Shut up."

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Bonus 4ED: Morocco; 3/19/14, Preference

As we wind our way south through the mountains, past tan villages nestled in the crooks of valleys and fertile green fields, our guide, Salah, says, "This side of the mountain is Berber, other side is Bedouin."

"Vous préférez le désert?" I ask, knowing he comes from the desert, and is a Bedouin himself.

"Because in the desert, you can see long way, very far," he replies, pointing at his face. "Good on eyes."

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Bonus 4ED: Morocco; 3/18/14, Mustaph has Ulterior Motives

The guidebooks clearly state that if someone in Marrakech other than a policeman offers to help you when you're lost, you should say no, but our search for the Saadian tombs has lead us so far into the maze of nearly (but not quite) identical narrow, brown streets, that there seems to be no other alternative.

Tall, thin, long faced Mustaph has clearly pegged us for the babes in the woods that we are, but he keeps up a constant stream of reassuring patter in very respectable English as we follow him and his black tracksuited form through increasingly dark and deserted streets. Despite his attempts to calm us, my anxiety, already at a pitch from the unfamiliarity of a new city, mounts.

Then, just when I'm almost certain that he's leading us to some dark alley to rob us and leave us for dead, we turn a sunny corner to arrive at his true destination: his spice shop, where he stops and smiles, saying, "Perhaps you would like to buy some saffron, or cumin?"

Good Intentions

As we walk down to Union Square from the karaoke bar, it starts to rain.

"Are you okay?" I say. "Do you want my hat?" 

As I drunkenly try to put it on her head, I accidentally poke her in the eye, and she pushes my hand away, saying, "Would you just leave me alone?"

Thursday, March 27, 2014

In the Way

There are days when I can't find a place to stand on the subway. Not that there's nowhere to stand: everywhere I stand seems to be in someone's way, either as they stand, or sit, or try to get off the train.

I shuffle my feet, searching their indifferent eyes. I bump into backpacks, trample on toes, trip old ladies, until I finally wedge myself into a corner to write, only to realize I must once again move when the doors open at the next stop.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Have You Seen This Man?

The missing person poster bears a straight-on photo, the subject wearing overlarge glasses, his thinning hair flying every which way. He wears a green sweater over a button down white shirt.

Often, when someone goes missing, we suspect suicide - I do, anyway - but this guy, youngish, mild-looking, missing from Bushwick (which itself implies an entire demographic; perhaps he wears the sweater "ironically"), seems incapable of the passion required for self-violence.

I think this, and am immediately ashamed of myself.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014


I'm talking to myself, yet again: "I like having conversations with pretty people, to see if they're interesting, too." (This despite the fact that I hardly ever just spontaneously talk to strangers, and when I do I'm not too picky about their looks.)

The woman standing on the other side of the pillar on the platform hears me muttering, and peers around it, only to have me catch her peering.

Her eyes widen in surprise as we see each other, and she blushes and immediately pretends to be looking down the track, while I bite my tongue and resolve to stop speaking to imaginary people in public.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Domestic bliss

The cat lies on my lap, purring. My wife lies next to me, her breath slow and regular. 

It's ten at night, and I can barely keep my eyes open. Just writing this is almost more than I can do.

Sunday, March 23, 2014


"The scary thing is coming home," I say, both if us curled up on the couch in the small hours listening to the early trucks because it's jet-lagged blazing day in our heads, "and it's a foreign country."

"What's a foreign country?" she says.


"No, it's fine."

Friday, March 21, 2014

On Vacation

In the desert. Back soon. You look good, by the way. Did you change your hair?

Monday, March 17, 2014

London Tunnels/Moroccan Skies

We spent most of our time in London underground on the Underground, taking the train to Buckingham Palace (where there was a mysterious parade and mob scene, easily more than 40,000 people strong, and complete with police cordons and children on shoulders, straining to see what the commotion was about), or making our transfer via what was supposed to be an express train to Gatwick. Said "express" ended up a local, and we ended up chatting with Rose and her son Shane about their arduous journey to Brighton that was supposed to take a few hours, and which ended up having take all day (so far - they may be on the train still).

But upon arrival in Marrakech, after the scrum of customs, we exit the airport to the dry desert air. A full moon hangs in a huge blue velvet sky, a sky full of the tang of dust, the sweetness of orange blossoms, bitter exhaust and wood fires, burning somewhere close by.

Bonus: Flora and Fauna of the London Underground

The "Underground" actually goes aboveground through this suburb of quaint brick houses and village greens, and spring is already scattering daffodils and stringing ivy along the banks of the railway as if winter mugged somebody else this year.

Dandelions and grass cover everything with electric yellows and greens, and the sun echoes the flowers in an optimistic blue sky filled with the breath of plants breathing their first breaths in months.

On the train, a couple speaks German in a cynical way, while a girl and boy make faces at a teenager across the aisle, and she tries not to smile by scowling in an encouraging fashion.

A kid reads the paper for the football scores while eating a chocolate croissant, and I can smell the sweet, sugary pastry while I gaze from face to face, looking at my fellow animals the way you do when you're in an unfamiliar, but safe, new place.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

An Auspicious Start

I stamp my foot, literally stamp like a three-year-old child having a tantrum. "It's just, the Q doesn't connect with the A except in the city, or we have to take the Franklin Shuttle to the C, and then get the E all the way out the other direction to the Airtrain."

As Katie has already pointed out, we missed the Q going to the LIRR just a minute ago, and there's not another train to Jamaica for an hour.

The disappointment I read on her face is crushing me as she says, "Let's just get a cab."

Saturday, March 15, 2014


"Je pratique mon français avec vous," I say to the gentleman on the other end of the line. His English is about as good as my French (which is to say, not very) but we're both doing our best to communicate.

By the end of our conversation I've broken a sweat, but I feel like I've managed to get us set up for getting a ride from the airport when we arrive.

But then, after correcting myself yet again while trying to tell him our flight number, he stops me, saying apologetically, "Téléphone a cette nombre en deux minutes et parler au directeur, sil vous plais."

Thursday, March 13, 2014


Katie taps the used up grinds from her morning coffee into the trash and sighs. "I just think this job is slowly sucking the life out of me."

"It's not that it's hard, but...," she continues, before trailing off.

I nod, while she rinses out the filter, places it back into the machine, and begins spooning coffee into it in preparation for another day.

5/26/11 2 months

(Note: This was an OLD draft I found recently. At the time, given my work situation, I thought it prudent not to publish it. Three years on, I feel pretty safe in doing so. Think of it as a bonus track, or something. Enjoy.)

I was playing my twenty-fifth or twenty-sixth game of Zuma Blitz on Facebook, while switching back and forth between my blog-reader and Dragon Age 2 (where I'm furiously building up enough equity to purchase an additional room for my castle) when I came upon this.

I wondered what I was really doing with my life.

So I came here, and wrote this. Afterwards, I think I'm going to stand up, maybe look out a window for a few minutes.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Memories and Grudges

It's raining again, and the streets outside are streaked with reflections of sodium lamps and smears of green and red from the stoplights. Inside, it's warm, and there's wine.

"I think she unblocked me on Facebook," I say, taking another swig from my glass, "and there's all sorts of pictures from high school that she's got that I've never seen."

"Well, if she did, I'm sure it was unintentional," he replies.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

The Art of the Deal

The older man in the velvet track suit sitting next to me on the park bench holds his enormous belly with a magisterial air.

"You found it?" he says skeptically to the man with the paper-thin skin shuffling in front of him.

"Yeah, you know, I, I got my phone turned off," the man with the paper-thin skin is nearly bent in half as he says this, "and I gotta pay...."

He waves his hand impatiently at the air, and the man in the velvet track suit watches impassively as his supplicant stumbles away.

Monday, March 10, 2014


There's an intersection where all the tired, worn out people meet: that woman on the corner, and the man on the other side of the cross walk, or the two kids who stand on the curb, staring at the traffic going by. Our hair is kinda messed up (it's the end of a long workday), and our clothes are, not shabby exactly, but looking like they could use a wash. Our faces are lined with worry and lack of sleep and being fed up with the cold and wet.

Because I'm here too, and they see me, seeing them, all of us having agreed lifetimes ago to meet here, knowing we wouldn't recognize each other, but paused here for a second as the lights change, and we pass out of each other's lives for yet another long age.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

That's MY Problem

"I really love the bread you make," I say. "But sometimes, when I think you're upset, or having a bad day, I don't ask you to make it."

Katie keeps cleaning the glass of the frames she bought at the thrift store as I say, "Really, it's not that I'm some kind of martyr, though - it's my low self-esteem that keeps me from asking for what I really want."

She wisely doesn't reply.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

I'd Know

Union Square is packed with milling shoppers, sullen chess players scamming the tourists, Hare Krishnas, dancers charming the crowds out enjoying what seems like the first almost warm day we've had in months. Katie has dismissed me while she shops for clothes, and I'm heading over to The Strand Bookstore to get some research books for a project I'm resurrecting, but really, that's not what's on my mind.

There's a store right nearby here that sells kratom, I recall, and I'm already thinking of which pocket I'd hide it in, how I'd explain the charge if Katie asked, how I could get it in the house, take it tonight. 

It would be easy, and nobody would ever know.

Friday, March 7, 2014

We Are Small, and the World is So Big

A plane lost over the South China Sea.

"It's so sad," Katie says as the news drones uselessly on about what they don't know. "Everyone so excited to fly, and they must be so scared."

I imagine the tiny lights of the plane falling through the empty sky to disappear in the darkness of a vast, rolling sea.

Thursday, March 6, 2014


"Is something wrong?" she asks.

I continue flipping back and forth between Netflix and Hulu without answering, until I finally say, "I'm just restless."

"Are you tired?" she says. "That's a rhetorical question."

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

This Smells Terrible! Here, You Smell it.

"Come in here and listen to this song," she says, pausing in the middle of washing her face. "It's terrible!"

I come into the bathroom and listen, and she gives me a look of horror as she discovers she's singing along.

I say, "You know the way this works: first it's familiarity through ubiquity, and then the Stockholm Syndrome kicks in."

Tuesday, March 4, 2014


From halfway down the block I can hear him: the howl of a little boy that has lost all hope.

When I reach the corner, it doesn't take me long to find him, or the object of his dejected wailing. He's no more than seven years old, crouched in a bent-knee stance, as if gathering power for his despair from the earth beneath his size five boots, and directing his very-real, not-crocodile tears at the black SUV idling in the street.

As he runs towards the vehicle, the door opens, and a man gets out, a woman's voice following him, saying, "You're just giving in by getting him now."

Monday, March 3, 2014

Move it, Schmuck

I get home from work, take off my button-down shirt and tie, and lay on the bed in my underwear with my heart pounding. I'm talking to myself again, and I'm not being very nice.

"I don't really even like the things I do, I mean, I'm not that good at it," I say, looping through my typical crap that I usually say to myself when I'm not feeling good about my life.

Then I work out and immediately feel better.


"Thanks for letting me do this," Katie says as she finishes hanging the pictures in the kitchen, "and for being patient with me."

"Yeah," I say, "well, you're pretty patient with me, too, like when I freaked out over the whole beer thing and you just kind of let me figure it out."

She leans against the doorway to the kitchen, nodding. "For that, I just had to say, 'This is not my meltdown.'"

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Wars and Rumors of Wars

Fresh bedclothes, clean with that vaguely floral scent of laundry soap. I tug the fitted sheet over the fat, blunt corner of the bed, stretching the elastic hem and then tucking it under, saying to myself, "The anxiety that comes when it seems the whole world is heading toward war is part of the energy that allows the conflict to take place."

"The fascination with war and the feeling of helpless inevitability that accompanies the build-up are part and parcel of the same process," I continue, carefully evening out the top sheet and executing the fold my father taught me that keeps the foot of it in place. "Therefore, the only way to avoid adding to it is to notice it happening in oneself and recognize that there is nothing inevitable about the process, that rationality may yet prevail, and that, at the very least, one should not contribute further to the unhappy situation by worrying about things over which one has very little control."