Thursday, July 30, 2015


The guys at the liquor store know me well enough to be on a first name basis, and to ask me what's new.

"Well, I had a dream last night that Katy Perry was my muse," I say. Their shocked faces are all the reward I need, but, of course, being who I am, I can't leave it alone.

"'Dear Penthouse,'" I say, to general laughter, but really, it wasn't that kind of dream at all.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

There's a Story, There

"Yeah," the stranger who stopped to pet Coco says. "I'm the overqualified MD who works the checkout at the grocery store."

"Oh, man, what happened?" I ask.

"I'm not so great with tests," she says with a shrug and a bent smile.

Monday, July 27, 2015

She's Right

"I'm not trying to make you feel bad," Katie says. "I'm really asking: when you say 'objets d'arts,' why do you pronounce the 't'?"

I don't really have a good answer, but I smile uncomfortably and try to play it off, saying, "Well, I'm just not that good with languages."

"But you are," she insists.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Like Father, Like Son

"I visit your blog every two weeks or so," my dad says on our semi-weekly phone call, "and I have to say, I really envy your ability to write fiction. All I can do is write and read the law."

"But not everybody can do that," I say. "And it really seems to speak to two sides of your personality: you like to solve puzzles, and you like to stick it to the man."

Coming Home

I come back from the grocery store, and Katie is napping on the couch under her snuggie. The dog is asleep right next to her on the floor.

My heart fills up, so full I don't know what to do. I stand at the door watching the two of them sleep, while the milk I bought collects condensation, until I go back to the kitchen to start making ice cream.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

In Bruges

The sullen waiter at the place we call "Angry Indian" brings our platters of food, and Kevin and I continue our discussion.

"So if you guys ever do get rich," he says, "I need you to do me a favor. I need you to get an apartment in Bruges."

"I feel like this is like one of the criminals on the crosses around Jesus, saying 'Lord, remember me when you come into your kingdom,'" I say while Kevin nods firmly.

Thursday, July 23, 2015


The thing about having a drug habit, I think as I'm walking down the street home from the train, is that your life is about something. The sun is shining, a mild breeze is blowing, and the day is warm and lovely.

Even if your life is boring, I think, you've got a certain drama, a certain romance. 

You know exactly what's going to happen, and that's what's great about it, and that's what kills you.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Not Playing

He stares at Katie without acknowledging me and slides down into the seat next to us, and continues to stare until I rouse him with a friendly, "Hello." "Sharknado 3" plays on the big screen TV, but the bar is so loud that it's not really audible.

The guy, clearly drunk, introduces himself, and he's giving off a very strange, almost intimidating vibe as he says, kinda glowering as he does, "So, you guys don't look to me like regulars."

But I'm not playing his game, and I continue in my friendly tack, saying, "Yeah, no, we're just here to watch the movie."

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Adventures in Badassery

"Excuse me,  ma'am?" says the woman in the tank top with the tattoo on her brown shoulder of a heart bisected by the name "Michael." "There's a mosquito behind you."

As the entire bench cranes to see the spindly thing perched on the subway car wall behind the woman, I reach into my bag and, after a moment's searching, pull out a crumpled Playbill for a play I saw a few weeks ago.

Feeling more badass than I have in a while, I quickly mash the magazine into the offending insect and crush it in between the pages, and the pretend that it's no big deal that I saved the day.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Not That Nice

After I'm done with my errand, I unlock my bike from the fence and trundle it down the steaming hot sidewalk to the light.

As I pass by the empty, parked taxis, I see a ten dollar bill on the ground. No one is around, so without breaking stride I scoop it up and slip it into my pocket in a single, smooth motion.

Almost immediately, I feel a pang of guilt at the thought of a taxi driver losing ten of his hard-earned dollars out of his pocket, but I don't stop walking, and I don't turn around.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Stranger Danger

"And when I came out of the grocery store, there were three strangers hovering over the dog, and water all over the sidewalk," Katie says.

"They were like, 'We thought she was thirsty, and we bought water, but she just won't drink it,'" she continues. "So I had to explain to them about her condition, and the head tilt, which is why her tongue is hanging out."

"What I didn't say is that, even if she was thirsty, Coco would sooner die than drink water from strangers."

Unasked for Massage

"She's such a pretty girl," the older woman says, kneeling down next to my dog. The dog's tongue hangs out of her mouth and she holds her head cocked towards the ground as if she's just heard something she can't quite believe ever since she got sick a few weeks back.

Without asking, the woman reaches out and starts to pull the dog's head back into what would be it's normal position, all the while massaging her shoulders. The dog, usually utter averse to anyone so much as touching her, let alone this kind of manipulation, bears it with good grace, while the woman Rolfs her spine and says, "Just gotta get her back in alignment, here...."

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Not that Smart

"Is that right?" Katie calls down the hall as I walk to the kitchen, but I already have the nagging suspicion that my math is off. I was talking about the fact that my boss over-tipped at an event today, thinking how smart I was that I noticed.

But now I realize that I totally got it wrong, and relief floods me that I didn't say anything. 

I sometimes think I'm smarter than I actually am.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Not Feeling It

"Um, where's the key to the ladies room?" the fifth person today asks. My co-worker, in whose cubicle said key lives, keeps her head down in her work and studiously ignores them.

I point the questioner to the key and, after she's left, ask my co-worker, "So, uh, I guess you're not really feeling people asking you for the key today, huh?"

A sheepish grin creeps up her cheeks, "Yeah, I guess not."

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

She Thought She Was Helping

The strange woman leans down and starts scratching the dog's back, interrupting my attempts to cajole Coco into mounting the stairs back up to our front door.

"These dogs are such divas," the woman says, as if she knows. "Come on girl, you can do it!"

But when I grab the handles on the dog's harness, lifting her up into the air, the woman is horrified at Coco's practically catatonic expression and lolling tongue, and backs away in horror before quickly walking away.

Monday, July 13, 2015

For Me, It's 'Blazing Saddles'

"What movie makes you laugh, no matter what?" I ask Katie. She's feeling kinda down.

"For me, it's a lot about who I'm seeing the movie with," Katie says after giving it some thought. "But I think I would laugh at 'BASEketball' if I was alone."

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Things I Kept, Things I Discarded

The box at the top of the closet has yielded a number of treasures, but many more objects that I really can't identify - objects that maybe were once treasures, but now only produce a sense of bafflement.

This music box, for instance, is easy to recognize: it used to belong to my grandmother Gladys, who collected them, and was given to her by my grandfather when they visited Italy. But what are these strings of dark brown, tiny seeds or beans that end with little green glass beads, and why would I keep them?

And this headshot from almost eighteen years ago now: who's this guy with a beard and hollowed out cheeks, looking less in need of an acting gig than of a good, hot meal, and why does he remind me of someone else?

Buffy and I Love a Good Game of Squash

"You guys look sporty," the blond kid at the wine shop says with a grin to Katie and me. He's referring, I'm guessing, to Katie's mid-calf white socks with two blue stripes at the top. Tennis socks.

"Yes, we were just on our way to play squash," I say, in my best Thurston Howell the Third voice.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Conversation Starter

It was a mistake to try to bring the dog outside. The disorientation occasioned by picking her up to carry her down the stairs has utterly discombobulated her, and she is paralyzed, clinging to the ground as if she's stranded on a steep, slippery slope.

As I sit on the stoop, calming her down in hopes of taking her back upstairs, the guy who walks around the neighborhood asking folks for cigarettes sits down next to me and, surprisingly, starts talking.

"What's wrong with your dog?" he asks, in what may be the longest sentence I've ever heard him speak.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Safe Bet

The playlist I used to keep me company while I did the dishes failed to perk me up. I ruminate on smoky bars and loud music and loneliness that somehow seemed heroic, long past, while I separate the recyclables into paper or plastic and bag them up for tomorrow.

"I'm melancholy," I say to Katie as I scoot the cat over and climb into bed.

She circles around to my side of the bed and lays down next to the diapered dog, saying, "Well, I'm no expert, but maybe it's 'cause you're tired?"

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Not Her Fault

The scuffling next to my bed easily awakens me in the middle of the night, and I turn over, grab my phone, swipe around on the screen until I find the right button, and turn on the flashlight that doubles as a flash on the camera.

I shine it down into the little nest we've constructed for the dog to keep her from falling down and hurting herself, and she looks up at me woefully, her milky eyes still pinwheeling slightly in her head. Her head bobs down and to the right, a symptom of what they call "Old Dog Vestibular Disease," which basically just means her inner ear that helps her balance got all wonky and now she has trouble walking, or standing, or sitting.

She's peed on the pad we put down for her, and I sigh, grab another pad, and start to clean up one more time.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Comfort Food

American cheese, cheddar, mozzarella, and parmesan, mixed with Dijon mustard, Worcestershire sauce, garlic powder, and a little sriracha.

Fake bacon, fried onions, sliced tomatoes, avocados.

Twelve grain bread, Irish butter, fried up in a pan until it's golden brown.

Tomato soup, with milk instead of water.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Fair Point

"That was kind of sarcastic," I say. "It hurt my feelings."

"Look," Katie says. "I get criticized all day, and I don't need it within 10 minutes of getting home."

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Eating My Feelings

In the midst of the green market, my chest tightens, and my thoughts grow confused and dim. Everything seems pointless, and I'm questioning every choice I've ever made.

"Would you like a doughnut?" Katie asks brightly, dragging me over to the table.

Afterwards, two doughnuts down, I'm smiling.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Not Exactly Overshare

The cashier looks at one of my purchases curiously. "I didn't know that Domino made agave syrup," she says.

"Oh yeah, and it's cheaper than any of the other brands," I say. "Plus, that, these limes, and some tequila, and you got some killer margaritas."

Friday, July 3, 2015

Stepping In

I've got my headphones in, plus I'm too far away to hear them anyway, but it's easy to see from their posture and their expressions that these two kids and the bald guy in the suit are arguing. He commented about them standing in the way on the stairs down to the train, they took offense, the usual stuff.

Now, on the platform, they're standing a little ways down from the guy in the suit, eyeing him with ill intent, and just as they move in to do... well, I don't know what, but they had something in mind... I step in the way, right between them and their target, and start reading, as if I'm oblivious.

My heart is pounding, I'm on high alert, but my physical presence seems to have diverted whatever was about to happen, and the bald guy to my right looks around nervously and then bugs off, leaving me standing with the two kids who, bereft of the object of their ire, shuffle their feet and then, for lack of anything else to do, get on the next train.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Little Help?

When I come back from the store, pistachio ice cream in hand, the dog isn't where I left her in front of the TV in the living room.

Where could she have gone, though? It's not like she can get far, with her eyes wandering back and forth in her head, throwing her off balance and making her sick.

I hurry back to the bedroom only to find her, laid out flat in the hall, her ears back apologetically, as if to say, "I'm so sorry about this, but my legs don't seem to work properly at the moment."

Sick Puppy

After a long night at the emergency room, we pay the cab driver and walk the stairs to our apartment, carrying precious cargo. It's 5 in the morning, the birds are singing, and the dog that seven months ago we didn't even know existed is now the focus of our universe.

We carry her up the stairs, exhausted, and sleep a few hours. It's my birthday, and I'm 44 years old.