Sunday, May 31, 2015

The Apathy of Youth

"If you don't see it on our shelves, we probably don't have it," says the board teenager behind the counter at the grocery store, barely suppressing the disdainful eyeroll she'd like to give me.

"Do you think you could check, though?" I ask, timidly. She sighs, and points over her shoulder to the empty manager's booth, indicating that there's nobody with whom she could check if she cared to, which she clearly doesn't.

To be fair, if I were her age, and working in a grocery store on a Sunday afternoon, I probably wouldn't care either.

I Eventually Got It Working

I twist the last screw into place and flip the computer right-side up, open it and press the power button. If all has gone well, I should have a slightly faster setup with more RAM after my upgrade.

But instead of the familiar, friendly "bong" that Macs make, the screen stays blank, and a worrisome "beep" repeatedly emanates from somewhere deep within the chassis.  I sigh, turn it off, flip it back over, and begin taking out the screws again, not worried, just annoyed that I have to do it twice.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Jet Fuel Can't Melt Cynicism

We walk through what is ostensibly the foundation of the new World Trade Center, past craggy rock and concrete pillars. But every stone and pillar, every rivulet of condensation, has been carefully, cynically placed, painted and curated, and is, in fact, made from plaster: fake.

Up top, on the observation deck thousands of feet above the city, we weave between dazed tourists and generic blond wood displays of the types of tchotchkes you'd find in any tourist attraction. They spent millions of dollars to make what could have been any corporate office or mall in America, saved only by the fact that it's in one of the greatest cities in the world, and man, what a view.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Feel Better by Doing Better

I'm still a little rundown from yesterday's bout with, let's say, food poisoning, so the news that today is my company's birthday celebration for the month, and that I will, as usual, be expected to emcee the proceedings, fills me with a small but definite feeling of dread.

Apathy and depression well up in my guts (precisely where I was feeling worst yesterday, which should be a clue), and I message Katie, wondering how I'm going to muster the enthusiasm to sing and dance and serve cake and do my duty.

"pooks," she writes, "think of the people who are excited to have their birthdays celebrated!"

Which is, of course, exactly the right thing to say, because I know how excited I would be, and, after a deep breath, I go in to the board room where everyone is waiting, and the smile on my face is genuine and unforced.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Sick Day

I ate some bad food, I'm not sure what though. By 11 in the morning, I was cramping, my skin hurt, I was feverish, and I couldn't think straight, so I left work and came home.

I ate Pepto Bismol tablets, which are very chalky and sort of minty, but not really, and drank Pedialyte, watched TV, and slept. Being sick is boring.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

The Tension is Killing Me

I slip my phone into the front pocket of my bag, aware that this is potentially a bad idea, aware that it would be easy for someone to slip it from the pocket and run with it out of the train and into the crowd, even with my hand on it, even with my headphones plugged in.

I imagine someone on the train, maybe that guy over by the door that I glimpsed out of the corner of my eye, reaching over like that guy did in Morocco, lifting it while I was distracted, but I'd catch him, grab his hand by the wrist, clip him with my elbow in the jaw, maybe twist his arm behind him. My breathing gets shallow, my heart pounds, my wrath is mighty, my righteous justice is like a hammer.

But when I look over, he's waggling his fingers at a baby in a carriage, making her laugh at his gentle smile, and for a moment, I hate myself.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Meaner Streets

While we were up in Newburgh, our host, JT, took us around the neighborhood, parts of which were quite impoverished, and, to my eye, maybe not so safe. But in every instance, when we met folks on the street, he would invariably greet them with a cheery "Good morning," and some polite small talk, and everyone was incredibly polite and friendly. I was so impressed, I decided to start doing the same myself, to create a more friendly vibe around the neighborhood.

But when I was out walking the dog tonight, no one would meet my eye.

Dad Jokes

"You guys know Beacon?" The old man asks as he leans over our table from the sidewalk outside the patio.

"This place used to be a barbecue place before it was a dim-sum place," he says after we explain we're just visiting. "They called it 'The Piggy Bank,' because it used to be a bank, before that."

His wife nods happily beside him as he talks, and she laughs as he repeats, "Piggy Bank."

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Pete Seeger Park

The train lets us off right on the shores of the Hudson River, and after we stare at the light glittering on the water for a while, we end up walking over to the park we see a little further upstream. I have my eye on this one particular bench tucked up in the shade of a giant oak overlooking a small inlet full of honking geese and complaining seagulls.

The sign at the entrance informs us we're entering Pete Seeger Park, and we drag our bags over to the bench to wait for our friend to come and pick us up. Across the inlet, a bulldozer scrapes a tiny peninsula to make ready for some development or other, and the roar of its motor drifts over the water to us, while we watch the geese decide en masse to launch their squabbling mass from the water into a cloudless blue sky.


As I'm about to take leave after our lunch together, Terrence leans in conspiratorially. "I wrote a joke for when I get together with my friends," he says. "How many New Yorkers does it take to change a light bulb?"

When I say I don't know, he says, "'Well, the next two weeks are shot because of work, and then I'm out of town for the weekend, so you want to try for the first week of next month?'"

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Something Shifted

He seems normal enough, nice even, chatting with the woman after she refuses the seat he kindly offered.

But when she opines that she's been sitting down all day, and that it's nice to "be on her feet," he lets out a forced, braying laugh.

"Yeah, and I'm just tryin' to get on my feet," he says, his entire demeanor changing. "Tryin'a get on my feet, tryin'a getton mafeet, get on ma feet, get on ma feet," he repeats in a sing-song voice, giggling uncontrollably.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Morale Officer

Katie has given up sugar, or sweeteners of any kind really, for the next couple of weeks in hopes of detoxing somewhat, and so I have appointed myself Morale Officer for the interim while she goes through her self-created dark night of the soul.

When I come in after working out and meditating, she's lying on the bed, curled around what I can only assume is a hollow spot in the center of her being. "I want bread," she moans when I ask her what she wants for dinner.

"Well, I'm afraid I can't really support that decision," I say gently.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Trying our Best

"So I told her," says Katie of our friend whose boyfriend is currently going through a divorce, "I said, give me a call if you want to talk, because I know how stressful it can be."

"You know, I never really acknowledged while I was doing my divorce thing, but I imagine it was pretty stressful for you, too, and I was too busy dealing with my own stuff." I say, leaning back against the headboard of our bed. "So good job on that."

"You know," Katie says, "I think we all did pretty well."

Monday, May 18, 2015

Food of the Gods

After we've run the cold-brew chocolate through the strainer, what's left is a fragrant golden brown liquid. Katie takes a long sip, and I follow suit, letting it roll around on my tongue - what chocolate tastes like at its heart: bitter and sweet and floral.

The theobromine in it settles right at my heart chakra, a cold fire that singes away my excess thoughts, leaving me dispassionately observing the world. Outside, the sky above is flat gray tinged orange by the streetlights, and I take my time walking the dog, strolling the sidewalks and watching the cars pass and fade, pass and fade.

Sunday, May 17, 2015


I'm walking the dog, idly going over my day, looking for something to write about for tonight. I'm carrying a blue plastic bag full of dog poop courtesy of the trotting mammal beside me, and she and I go our usual route in companionable silence while I look for a garbage can.

The sudden outburst of aggression from a passing dog takes both Coco and I by surprise, but Coco can be pretty quick when she needs to be, and she circles my legs, putting me between her and her assailant. I've been working on being a little more conscious in my interactions with the world, so I'm really proud I neither kick the attacking dog, or upbraid the dog's owner for her lack of control, and everybody goes home feeling fine, even the dogs, once they've been properly introduced.


We tumble into the bus, soaking wet from the rainstorm, and find ourselves sitting across the aisle from the guy that begs for change outside of the market down the street. The deep grooved wrinkles on his face rearrange themselves into a friendly smile as we exchange pleasantries.

At our stop, Katie races down the street to our door, her flip-flops flapping on the wet sidewalk, and I pace after, unwilling to be hurried, even by the rain.

The beggar from the bus shoots us a wave as I unlock the front door, and I return the wave as Katie and I head inside.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Disappointed in the Body

If I was a cartoon, you'd be able to see these little lines shaped like lightning bolts coming off the back of my neck, right at the base of my skull, indicating excruciating pain. I'm pretty sure I'm not dying, but, you know, we'll see.

It's just the latest symptom of weird, unwarranted exhaustion I'm enduring today, and frankly it's getting a little old. When I come in from walking the dog, Katie glances up from her work, and says, with a worried frown, "You look really disappointed."

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Hallucinate a Preacher

The God-botherer on the morning train is, not exactly shouting, but she certainly is getting through my headphones, no matter how loud I turn up the music.

"The people on that train, before they died, they didn't know they were going to meet Jesus when they were reading their papers, when they were looking at their smartphones," she says, barely able to contain her disdain.

But then, on the evening commute, music once again in my ears, here comes another, or is it the same woman? "Oh, Lord Jesus Christ, come and bring these people to your eternal love," she shouts, but, when I turn around in the crowded compartment, nobody seems to be speaking, and I wonder if I'm just hearing things.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Equation of Time

"It's the difference between what time it is measured by the sun, say, using a sundial, and the time on your watch," I tell Katie as we're getting ready to go to work.

"Today it's at a low point, so your watch is slow compared to the sun by like, three minutes," I continue.

She seems unimpressed, but I'm trying to figure out if this has anything to do with my sense, lately, that time has been going slower, but because our watches go at the same speed it's impossible to measure. I know this is crazy, but I can sometimes feel the fluctuations when I do my meditation in the morning, and it's nice to pretend for a second that it's a phenomenon of the world and not just something in my head.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Puppy Patrol

A guy steps off the train carrying a pit bull puppy under his arm, and every single person seeing the ball of wrinkles and soft, short grey fur smiles uncontrollably.

Every train should be required to have a person with a puppy stationed in each car. A system could easily be arranged to cycle the puppies out every couple of hours for naps and pee breaks, so as to avoid accidents or any incidents due to ill temper, and everybody seeing the puppies would just feel better about their lives, no matter what was going on.

People who don't happen to like dogs would also refrain from taking the subway, a side effect which would likely improve the quality of ridership, as well.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Me Too

The dialogue is clunky, and the acting is only so-so, but the fight scenes are pretty good, and after all, we've watched this far, so we might as well watch "Daredevil" all the way to the end.

"I mean, do people just not hear what the actors are saying," I ask, incredulous, after a particularly egregious line reading by one of the attractive but unfortunately wooden leads.

"You know who's good, though:" I say later to Katie while she thumbs through Facebook on her phone, "Vince D'onofrio."

"Guess I'm rooting for Kingpin," she says, without looking up.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

You'll Shoot Your Eye Out

"I have to get the info so I can read your blog," my mom says during our Mother's Day phone call.

("I've got it!" says dad in the background) "I've even got an entry or two about you, " I say, after I remind her of the blog name and URL.

"Remember when you and Dawn argued about you wanting a gun?" I ask.

"Were you on my side?" she responds.

Women's Liberation

Our driver, Mohammad, says, "I told her that if she uses her brain," he taps his temple with one finger, "she can make the money."

We are stopped in traffic in Chinatown, all around us the crowds clog the sidewalks, overflowing out into the street and crossing back and forth.

"She take all the hijabs, and she sell them, and she make a hundred fifty-eight dollars," he continues. "I say, 'you make that money with your brain, you keep - that burka is free."

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Un Cochon Andalou

The brown-skinned, pleasant looking woman in an NYPD uniform smiles out at the subway station platform from the recruitment poster.

But someone has taken a blade, maybe keys, to it and scratched out the eyes on the poster with careful, deliberate fury.

I've seen this on other posters before - happens all the time, especially to images of women - but something about the defaced picture disturbs me as I walk by. It is violent and ugly and slightly surreal, and makes me feel a foreboding of bad things to come.

Thursday, May 7, 2015


It takes me a second to come back to reality from the book I'm reading, back to the bedroom, the morning news blaring uselessly, the workday about to begin.

"If you use your superpower too much," I say a little later, wandering back into the bedroom from the kitchen, "you get dependent on it, and it'll take over your life. What's your superpower, do you think?"

"Rage?" says Katie into the mirror, mildly.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Why Am I Surprised?

The dog pausing to pee gives me an excuse to eavesdrop on the gaggle of teenage guys waiting at the corner for the light.

"You know," says one, "I wish the borders between Canada and the U.S. were like, completely open."

"Why?" asks one, reasonably, it seems to me.

"Toronto," the first one says, "is one of the most beautiful cities in the world."

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Mourning in Parallel

That's the fourth emergency vehicle that's screamed down the street since I started my meditation, and despite my intention to only bring peace and love to my circle, the howling sirens have got my mind on high alert. I am suddenly, absolutely sure that there has been some horrible disaster, maybe on the Manhattan Bridge that her train would be passing over right about now, and Katie is now trapped, injured or worse, maybe dead, burned to death in an explosion or some catastrophic collision. I mourn her, and realize that with her death, a huge part of me has died too.

Later, when she's undressing after work, I mention my foolishness, but she says, "I have that thought, like, four times a week about you!"

Monday, May 4, 2015


His voice lofts across the street on the warm, fragrant breeze. "Just come home, okay?" he says into his cell as he paces back and froth under the streetlight. "I made it really nice for you, you know? Just, please, come on home."

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Sins of the Father

"You know your mother has a short temper, right?" the man says in a mild voice to what I'm guessing is his son. The air in the produce aisle is chill, and cools my lightly sunburned arms as I eavesdrop by the apples while they sort through the limes.

"Well," he continues, handing off another lime, "sometimes you just have to remember that she's got a short temper and, when you know something is going to set her off, just get out of the way."

"But it isn't fair," his son whines.

Saturday, May 2, 2015


The fact that I am awake right now is a miracle. I was up early doing stuff, writing. I'm putting words together, mostly to fulfill my obligation. 

I watched the tonight show, and suddenly I woke myself up snoring, much like I imagine someone reading this would.