Saturday, December 31, 2016

I'm Only Six Four, Tops

Katie's brother pounds on the kitchen window, and we get up to let the two of them in from the cold night air.

Katie comes in carrying a paper bag upon which she's cradling a fairly sizable amount of broken glass. Turns out she and her brother took the car escape tool (including a seat belt slasher, pocket knife, and glass breaker) her brother gave her and tested out the glass breaking tool on the wine bottle we recently cashed.

"I broke the glass," her brother says, "because I knew if she got hurt you'd blame me, and I don't need seven foot husband pissed off at me."
One year ago today: We Know Our Own
Two years ago today: Tempus Fugit
Three years ago today: Maybe I'M the Problem

Friday, December 30, 2016

Don't Look Away

The hawk sits on his branch, high up in the tree in the backyard, and I sit on the porch, both of us out there long after everyone else has gone inside. His chest feathers ruffle in the breeze, and he turns so his back is into it and hunches over a little more.

The breeze muscles the leaves around, threatening to turn into a full-blown wind, and the door to the porch swings open by its invisible hand.

When I turn back from the door, the hawk is gone.
One year ago today: That's On Me
Two years ago today: Who Knows How She Knows
Three years ago today: Comments on the Bukowski Documentary
Nine years ago today: 12-29-07 - We Gotta Get Outta This Place

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Shower Talk

"And then the muscle in my leg right here," I point to Katie's leg right above the knee where the river of shower water pouring down the delta of her thigh concentrates to a thin stream that trickles down her calf, "started twitching like this." I pulse out a tattoo of quick beats with my fingertips on her leg.

"The beacon I had implanted in you finally turned on," she says solemnly, turning away to rinse off the soap.

"Well, could you tell 'em to chill, please?"
One year ago today: Back to the Grind
Two years ago today: Innocent in Dreams
Nine years ago today: 12-28-07 hell is other people (booking your air travel)

Tuesday, December 27, 2016


The plane tosses and bucks, skidding down and climbing up towering mountains of cloud. It seems impossible that we should remain so calm in the midst of such commotion, when the terror of the sky is upon us, but somehow no one stirs.

A bell rings, and in the darkness above every seat a hundred little identical sigils illuminate, a warning and ward from the captain to keep us locked down safe in our seats.

Everyone dreams on, complacent, but we are miles from the earth, and only a few slender, trembling feet from the void.
One year ago today: An Ill(-ish) Wind, Part 2
Two years ago today: I Am Known
Three years ago today: Home
Nine years ago today: 12-27-07 Mexican or Mexican't?

Monday, December 26, 2016


Television on in the background, another retelling of the redemption of Saturn, while I make us tea. I pause at the bay window and look out into the disheveled backyard. A gray sky glowers overhead, but I know it isn't below 60 outside.

I press my forehead to the cool glass, which is about as close as I get to going outdoors, or even leaving a radius of about thirty feet beyond the couch, all day.
One year ago today: If Someone Tells You They're Crazy, Believe Them
Two years ago today: Teach Me To Just Shove Things In My Face
Three years ago today: What Else Are You Gonna Do In Sun City?
Nine years ago today: 12-26-07 absolution

No Sidewalks

While we wait for her brother to arrive for Christmas, Katie and I walk through her parents' neighborhood, admiring the houses and counting the number of empty tree swings and abandoned trampolines.

"Not seeing anybody on the streets is weird," says Katie. "I mean, I know there are people in the houses, celebrating Christmas, but from the outside you can't tell there's anybody around at all."

I listen to the quiet and the high whine of my circulation; a hawk flies overhead in a cloudless blue sky, and Katie raises her hand, like she's calling it down so we can have someone else to talk to.
One year ago today: The Holidays Bring Up Feelings
Two years ago today: Smart Dog
Nine years ago today: 12-25-07 melancholy christmas

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Flying Home

Open throats of jet engines swallow huge volumes of air to furiously spin and shove us across the sky. Unseen vortices tumble in our wake twisting the atmosphere, changing the world's weather.

Below, the city glitters as we descend.

Streets like constellations beneath a darkened sky, stars of architecture and motion all grow and lift and resolve into somewhere we can land, a tiny space in an enormous world, a place on earth for us to stand.
One year ago today: What, 'Cause She's Black?
Two years ago today: An Antidote for Smells and Bells
Three years ago today: A Gnostic Christmas

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Go Whistle

I'm breaking down the boxes for recycling, when I notice a flash of silver on the dining room table, peeking out from underneath a pile of envelopes. which turns out to be a thin bar of chrome - is it a boatswain's whistle?

There's no reason we would have a boatswain's whistle (think the Captain whistling for his kids in "The Sound of Music"), and it turns out to be part of a C-clamp, which is almost as weird, but I'm actually a little disappointed it's not a whistle.

And this is kind of a pattern with me: I see something I don't recognize, and think it's something awesome, or unusual, and then I'm bummed when it's not. I wasn't thinking of a boatswain's whistle, I didn't want a boatswain's whistle, so why am I now disappointed that the world has not suddenly presented me with a boatswain's whistle?
One year ago today: I Actually Did Do That, Though
Two years ago today: 12 Legs Toward Dreamland
Three years ago today: I Just Seem Approachable, I Guess
Nine years ago today: 12-23-07 Mama wants a gun

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Cleaning Up the Meth You Made

"I got a nephew," the vendor says as he bags up my gift to my boss. "He's a meth-head, you know, but an affluent meth-head."

"Oh man, that sounds awful," I say.

"He's got a job, a girlfriend, but he's spent all his inheritance on rehab and more drugs."
One year ago today: Booze is a Depressant
Two years ago today: I Hate Admitting I Don't Know
Three years ago today: Which Explains a Lot, Really
Nine years ago today: 12/22/08 Putting It Together

Inadvertently Funny

"He's pretty friendly," the dog's owner says while I'm ruffling his fur, "but he's kinda racist. Like, he barks at black people."

"Yeah, I had a Scottish Terrier like that, but with Catholics," I said, thinking of the Scotch-Irish and the Ulsters, and recognizing almost as soon as I say it that it doesn't make any sense.

But the owner laughs anyway, because how could a dog tell you were Catholic?
One year ago today: Blast Zone
Two years ago today: It Didn't Help
Three years ago today: Make Believe
Six years ago today: 12/21/10 Cold winter's night that was *so* deep

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

An Instinct For Empathy

I'm walking down the soda aisle in the grocery store, not really paying attention, when my basket hits a pillar, driving the corner of it right into my leg just below where I had surgery. The nerves on the surface there are completely gone, they may never grow back, but the speed at which I was walking jabbed the plastic basket past the superficial numbness and all the way down to the still living nerves beneath, shooting shocking electric waves of pain straight throughout my body.

I almost dropped the basket in shock, which would have been bad enough, but apparently I also screamed a sort of high-pitched, very loud whine, which attracted the attention of my fellow shoppers.

"Oh my God, I'm so sorry" a small woman says in alarm, without really even being sure, I think, what happened.
One year ago today: HD Killed the Video Star
Two years ago today: Everybody Needs to Learn Manners
Six years ago today: 12/20/10 Save all Your Love
Nine years ago today: 12-20-07 - Perspective

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Those Were the Days

Down the long corridor to transfer to the train home, I finally notice - they took down all the sticky notes people had posted on the walls of the station after the election. I'd gotten used to the colorful flags, and the bare white tiles seem clinical and sad in their absence.

People had put them up like temporary graffiti, covering the walls in their disappointment and reassurance after Trump's election. I wonder to myself as we all hurry by, how long before all of us are looking back nostalgically on 2016, reminiscing about the days when we could mourn publicly our disillusionment, when we could comfort one another with office supplies and hope?
Two years ago today: The Habits of Houseguests
Three years ago today: I Panicked
Nine years ago today: 12-19-07 flying

Sunday, December 18, 2016

"Here's to the Hearts that Ache"

Lights come up, credits roll, and I wipe a few errant tears from my eyes. The swooning, multi-colored spectacle has danced across the screen, and the pleasant ache in my heart seems well-worth my ticket.

Behind me, though, I hear a woman break down weeping, the kind of heartbroken, coughing sobs that come up from some deep place in the chest where sorrow lives until it can no longer be choked down or denied. I face the screen, embarrassed, though I can't say why, until my curiosity gets the better of me and I turn to see her a few rows back, face buried in the shoulder of her date, shuddering in the throes of some grief that only another romantic would possibly understand.
One year ago today: Jejune
Two years ago today: I'm PRETTY Sure He's Joking
Three years ago today: Late Night Wine Talk
Nine years ago today: 12-18-07 - scrabbling for change

Peeing Into the Void

For the second time tonight, the doge seems utterly flummoxed by the snow covering her favorite pee spots. She runs back and forth between the three spots, one tree, then the next, then a third, and back to the first, nosing around but absolutely refusing to pee so we can go back inside.

At each spot, she noses the ground frantically, as if she's looking for other dogs' pee, and finds nothing, and therefore she doesn't want to waste her contribution. If dogs communicate via pee, then it's almost like she's got an absolutely fire tweet to post, but the only site available is Myspace.
One year ago today: Letting Go
Two years ago today: Emotional Head-up Display
Three years ago today: Gotta Start Shopping a Little Earlier
Six years ago today: 12/17/10 Did you forget?
Nine years ago today: 12-17-07 - "Squaaaare eyes. Turn the oth-eh way. I don' wanna see. Ya criy-y-y."

Friday, December 16, 2016

The Mask of Another

Bored eyes, pursed lips, pushing a wheeled suitcase across the subway platform. I unconsciously find my lips twisting to mimic her disappointed moue, in the same way that I find myself repeating phrases spoken in a foreign accent, not to mock, but to taste the way the words feel in their mouths.

In the mask of her expression on my face, I can feel her unsurprised disdain, a touch of disgust, and, beneath it all, a little bit of wistfulness, as if she wished the world were, somehow, different from the way it is, was, will be.

What would it take to make a mouth like that smile?
One year ago today: Holding On
Two years ago today: Proverbs 25:21-22
Three years ago today: Being "In the Moment"
Nine years ago today: 12-16-07 ghosts on my retina

Thursday, December 15, 2016


I haven't seen him in, what, ten years now? but it's him for sure: same loping walk, blond hair long like he used to wear it before we fell out, same profile. He's even wearing the kind of bag he'd probably wear - something colorful from South America strapped across his chest, handwoven, eminently practical and lightweight - over a mountaineering style jacket back from the days when he climbed Aconcagua and I thought he was the coolest person I knew.

As I get closer, about to pass him, my heart clenches, and I realize I have no idea what to say, even if he'd want to talk to me, which I doubt; and then I'm right next to him, and I realize it's somebody else, somebody I don't even know.

It really doesn't look like him at all.
One year ago today: The Set Up
Two years ago today: Who Knows?
Three years ago today: Starstruck
Six years ago today: 12/15/10 Straight to Hell
Nine years ago today: 12-15-07 - Golden Flow Orange Juice

Wednesday, December 14, 2016


Tan coat and bad shave doesn't hold the door for the person behind him after he exits the building, and it swings closed forcefully, but I'm just able to catch it with a grumble before it hits me in the face and I follow him out onto the street.

Not that I'm following him, understand, just that we're going in the same direction down the same street at the same time, so when he reaches the line of cop cars parked in front of the doughnut shop, I'm there to see him wave to each car as he passes; a strange sort of little-boy wave, all wrist and hand, and he's looking into each car, trying to make eye contact as he goes.

I pull one ear bud out to hear what he's saying when he stops to chat with some regular looking guy on the sidewalk.

"...and they're always within five hundred feet of wherever I am," he says, pointing to the cop cars, "I don't know why."

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

So This is Christmas

I'm decorating the tree, lighting the candles, singing along full-throated with the playlist of carols my computer has been kind enough to find for me, when unasked for and unwanted, apropos of nothing, a vision of Aleppo comes into my head.

A family huddles in the dark, somewhere, far away, waiting for dawn, while footsteps outside go door to door with ill intent; every few minutes a bomb goes off with a dull thump close enough to feel the concussion through their bodies like a second, bullying heartbeat.

Later, I'm walking the dog down a cold Brooklyn street, and one of the guys who spare-changes on the corner walks by carrying a bedroll with a, "How you doing, big guy?"

"Right on," I say, for some reason.
One year ago today: Rough Trade
Two years ago today: Fickle
Three years ago today: Just Keep Dancing
Six years ago today: 12/13/10 Passing time
Nine years ago today: 12-13-07 - Where Christmas lights come from

Sleeper Car

On the subway on the way home from the office holiday party, three guys sit opposite us, while one sits next to us. All of them wear black ski caps, and one says something in Spanish before handing his phone across the aisle to the one sitting next to us to show him a video.

I don't watch, though. Katie rests her head on my shoulder and falls asleep, and I rest my head on top of her head, the heat of her aliveness warming my ear through her hair, until I fall asleep, too.
One year ago today: Dogs Make Friends
Two years ago today: Memory
Three years ago today: The Cat Saves the Day
Six years ago today: 12/12/10 God doesn't mind if you have a good time
Nine years ago today: 12-12-07 - metrocard athlete

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Christmas Brass

We've been standing here for at least fifteen minutes, but the men and women carrying tubas keep filing out onto the stage on the ice at Rockefeller Center, right in front of the gold statue of Prometheus. The giant Christmas tree towers above them, green and glittering multi-colored beneath a cold gray sky, swaying in the light breeze that swirls flurries of snow around us.

I'm so excited to hear Christmas carols played by a choir of tubas that I'm bouncing up and down, and Katie twists around in the tight crowd surrounding us and laughs at me.

"We're so lucky," I say, squeezing her as tight as I can.
Two years ago today: Memory
Three years ago today: He's Got My Back
Six years ago today: 12/11/10 a conversation at a party - 2:30 AM
Nine(!) years ago today: 12-11-07 - There is no good in tarot cards.

Accelerate Out of Danger

Flatbush Avenue is not bike friendly.

The traffic roars down Flatbush as it cuts across the borough like a diesel cataract, and I am utterly inconsequential to the buses, trucks, taxis, towncars; to the double parkers, the close passers, the door openers. And yet, for all that, I am not afraid.

At 6th Avenue, traffic trying to get across the intersection gets caught in the middle of the street, making it impossible for the flow going crossways to move, but I know better, and I weave through the honking cars that point every which way, just to keep my momentum, knowing I am only safe when I move, and the faster I go, the safer I will be.
One year ago today: Mea Culpa
Two years ago today: I'll Be Fine Tomorrow
Three years ago today: Among Other Things (But Not Many)
Six years ago today: 12/10/10 Sometimes I get carried away

Saturday, December 10, 2016

The Physics of Fire

The text from Katie reads, "5 alarm fire 2 blocks from apt!"

"On my way down," I text back, slip on my boots and my coat, and head out.

When I get down, flashing lights illuminate the whole street, but the worst seems to be over even though the ladder is still up to the 5th floor and the occasional gust of white billows out from where the fire department broke a window to get in.

We stand in the cold and debate whether it's smoke or water vapor, but Katie finally settles it, saying, "If it was water, it would fall down, at these temperatures, but since it only goes up, it has to be smoke." 
Two years ago today: Morning Luck
Three years ago today: Good Guy Brain
Six years ago today: 12/9/10 late nights in the slope

Thursday, December 8, 2016


Headphones again as I leave work, this time Sonny Rollins and Saxophone Colossus, recorded in 1956 in Hackensack, NJ. As the first notes of "You Don't Know What Love Is" cry out, the stoplight changes, I feel a pause, a shift, and suddenly I'm in another city. Not another city, but the same city, New York City, the greatest city, but in the late 50s: the economy is booming, and the city is constantly surprising itself with its ability to be, not just a city, but a haven for creativity and commerce.

I stride down powerful sidewalks to the soundtrack of another era, and I am suddenly a time traveller, transported to a past full of promise and beauty, watching cars roar into the future down Lexington Avenue, as I walk into the past.
One year ago today: Overheard at Work
Three years ago today: Dad Jokes at the Wine Shop


Old man with a walker that doubles as a seat wheels onto the subway car, turns his walker around, and sits. His caretaker stoically follows behind, grabs a pole, and stands, staring at nothing.

A man on the bench, seeing them, stands and offers his seat, but the man sitting in his walker chair waves him off, and the man standing takes a moment to understand that he's being offered a place to sit before he shrugs and also declines.

A older, black man in a long, sharp, brown plaid coat with a fur collar watches all this, and after everyone is done being polite, he hustles over to grab the vacated seat, with an expression of, "Damn, well, if nobody's gonna take it...."
One year ago today: Chopping Onions
Two years ago today: Magic Beans
Three years ago today: An Important Day in a Boy's Life
Six years ago today: 12/7/10 Armored

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Psalm 121:1

It's dark by five in the evening when I get out of work, these days, and I am exhausted at the end of a long day. I walk out into the gloom, clouds gathering that will shortly rain down cold and sloppy wet on the city, though the streets are dry right now, and despite my weariness and discouragement, I look up.

It's that moment, right before the storm, when the air is extremely clear, and the tops of the buildings seem close enough to touch and each detail stands out like an archetype of itself, a platonic ideal come to this plane of existence, hard-edged and sharp and perfect: bricks and stone and steel and glass in precise and soaring visions of frozen physics.

I stop for just a moment, taking it all in, then allow myself to get swept along in the gust of pedestrians that tumbles me underground.
One year ago today: First Rule
Three years ago today: Two Wrongs
Six years ago today:  12/6/10 The band is passive aggressive. We are not.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Secondhand Communion

I pause in the vestibule of my building before heading out into the night to push my earbuds into my ears and zip up my coat. The form-fitting plugs of the earbuds are as much to cancel out the noise of the subway station, the streets, New York, as they are for the music I thumb into life on the screen of my phone.

Down on the platform waiting to go home, as the music plays, I click on the lyrics to read along, and I'm reminded of how much I dislike lyrics websites. There was a time when I would pore over the lyrics sheets that came in the records I bought for a couple bucks apiece, looking for clues, obsessing over nuance, but now, with the lyrics typed up by somebody I don't even know, it's like there's a third party in the relationship, somebody interpolating themselves between us, instead of just me and the artist communing in the space between my ears, him whispering inside me through my headphones right into the center of my brain.
One year ago today: Old Salt
Two years ago today: Lost Pen
Three years ago today: Rumors of the Real World
Six years ago today: 12/5/10 What more do you want from me? A cookie?

It's Beginning to Smell a Lot Like Christmas

The Christmas trees they're selling on the street next to the co-op smell heavenly, a lovely, citrusy pine smell that wafts across the pavement in pungent, delicious waves. We scrutinize the small handful they've got leaning on a wooden frame, but they're mostly too tall, and the shorter ones are too wide, even though they're all handsome and green, with strong needles that don't fall when you bounce the base of their trunks on the sidewalk.

Finally the woman running the place comes over and asks if we need anything, and after a little negotiation, we find the right tree: not too fat or skinny, good, tight branches, and just a little taller than me. We pay for it and I tuck it under my arm to haul it home, the dark, sticky pine sap staining my fingers to the point where I find myself sniffing my hands for the rest of the night, drinking in concentrated childhood longing.
One year ago today: The Bright Side
Two years ago today: Cooking Together
Three years ago today: Who Cares What You Think?
Six years ago today: 12/4/10 Which is what we named the tree

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Who Usually Takes Charge

"I don't really care where we eat," says Dan, hands above his head in a "don't shoot" posture. "You guys decide."

"Great," one of them says, and then the three women's heads dive into their phones to find us a spot while Dan and I watch, impressed.

"Lucky you just got kind of opted out, without having to abdicate like I did," he says, and I shrug happily.
One year ago today: A Discourse on Unheimlich
Two years ago today: Matthew 25:40
Three years ago today: Unconscious

Saturday, December 3, 2016


Something sparkles on the edge of sight, and without thinking I lean down and scoop it up - an amethyst, rough cut, about the size of an egg, shading from translucent white into purple at the tip. The tiny bronze-ish loop embedded at the base suggests it might have once been a pendant.

I hesitate for only a moment before deciding to go back out of the subway gates to give it to the subway attendant in her booth in case someone comes looking for it, but the entire time I'm wondering: is this a gift from the universe for me to keep, or a test of honesty I'm meant to pass?

After I drop it with the attendant, I ask to be let back into the subway, and she chides, "The next time you come out, make sure I see you, 'cause I don't know if you paid to go in or not."
One year ago today: Lighten Up
Two years ago today: "Lights, Please?"
Three years ago today: Here, You Throw This Away

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Not His Night

After we figure out that the tickets for the show are for tomorrow night, not tonight, my friend and I head down to the subway back to Brooklyn.

Just as I'm through the gate, he says, "You know, I just used this -" meaning his MetroCard that allows him entrance into the subway station. "I hope it works," he finishes, and I'm on the other side.

But sure enough, it won't let him through (there's around a fifteen minute wait on the unlimited MetroCards before you can use them again), and he says through the bars with a rueful look, "You know, with the luck I'm having, you might just want to head home - get a little farther away from me."
One year ago today: Sounds Pretty Good, Even to a Vegetarian
Two years ago today: Melancholia
Three years ago today: That's How I Got Over My Fear of Heights
Six years ago today: 12/1/10 So much for meditation

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Kinda True

"It turns out we've got plenty of software licenses for Adobe Acrobat," my boss says, "so if you ask IT to install a copy on my machine, I won't have to send you these documents to convert all the time."

"Sure, no problem," I say. "I'll just have to find job security some other way."

She laughs (but does she think it's funny?).
One year ago today: Barking at Midnight
Two years ago today: Nostalgia

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Know Return (Been Here Before)

"Siri, play 'The Point of Know Return' by Kansas," I say into my phone. The dog tentatively makes her way down from stair to stair like an unseen current is about to sweep her away.

At the bridge of the song ("Your father, he says he needs you/Your mother, she says she loves you") my heart swells up inside me, and I stop on the stairs, longing for the life of adventure the songs sing about, even though I know they're all lies and fantasies someone made up.

I consider the playlist I'd create of songs that use that metaphor, so common in rock and pop music for the last few decades, and I wish for big strong wings on my back, while the dog stares out the front door thinking of nothing at all.
One year ago today: Neutrality
Two years ago today: All Things Considered
Three years ago today: Paris, je t'adore
Six years ago today: 11/29/10 Even kids aren't really that much of an accomplishment

Monday, November 28, 2016

Happy Monday

"I'm just, I could work harder, and I don't, because I'm lazy." I'm standing at the door, feeling sorry for myself, while the dog stares down the stairwell like a prisoner going to the chair. My chest is a half-inflated, wet balloon

"It's the first Monday after a holiday," Katie says, shrugging, "so nobody really worked that hard today."
One year ago today: Too Real
Two years ago today: The Day After
Three years ago today: Bloody Soil
Five years ago today: 11/28/11 new cat
Six years ago today: 11/28/10 Falling

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Teaching a Worldview

"But why are you so focused on that?" asks dad, balding, long drooping face.

"Because I love butterflies," his daughter says, but she knows she's already lost, and now she's questioning, not whether or not she should get a butterfly for herself, but why she likes butterflies at all.

"I just don't know why you're so focused on that," he says as he takes her by the hand. "And besides, your brother and sister will probably destroy it, anyway."
One year ago today: All I Want for Christmas
Two years ago today: Save Us From What We Deserve
Three years ago today: Life Skills
Six years ago today (Katie says "You're still really bad at Mario. It's uncanny."): 11/27/10 We tend to do better at parallel play

Maybe a Little Offense

The five-year-old girl's eyes widen as she catches sight of the atlas moth. "It is very big," she says.

"It's as big as your head!" I say.

She considers my teasing for a moment before turning to me and saying fiercely, "No offense taken!"
Two years ago today: Shame
Three years ago today: Check Your Bags (And Your Privilege)

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Welcome Home

New York City near the airport has all the harsh lighting and industrial construction of a dystopian landscape, and I say as much to Katie on the cab ride home.

"It's like that around all airports, isn't it?" she replies, smiling, and I agree before I go back to staring out the window.

After the cool, dry air of the Nevada desert, New York feels like a rainforest. We climb out of the cab at our apartment and I can feel my pores widen and drink in the humidity like a thirsty man leaping into a river.
One year ago today: Strained
Two years ago today: My Family
Three years ago today: The Elusive Glasses Are Somehow My Fault
Six years ago today: 11/25/10 everyone

Friday, November 25, 2016

Sweet With Teeth

"Everybody was lined up to get some meat, and your mom kind of snuck around the other end and asked for the end piece," my brother-in-law says at the end of the night. The kid has been put to sleep, the dishes all washed, the leftovers gathered up and resting in their plastic beds in the fridge. "I gave it to her, and she said, 'Now everybody can have whatever they want.'"

"She's sweet," my sister says thoughtfully.
One year ago today: What Good Are You?
Two years ago today: Scenes From the Class War in Park Slope, Brooklyn
Three years ago today: Tales from High School
Six years ago today: 11/24/10 Who really runs this joint.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Suburban Apocalypse

Driving to the 24-hour grocery store to pick up some last minute items, we come out of my sister's subdivision to a completely empty four-lane street, eerily lit by the yellow sodium lamps and devoid of traffic in either direction as far as we can see.

"Are we in the middle of some kind of apocalypse?" I ask Katie, but she doesn't answer.

The population increases when we reach the store. I grab a cart and roll past a dark room just inside the entrance where a few souls are playing slots, to the brightly lit, wide-aisled food paradise where Katie waits for me.

One year ago today: Karma Leaves a Mark
Two years ago today: What's Eating You?
Three years ago today: "Repent Harlequin!" "Yeah, no, I'm good."
Six years ago today: 11/23/10 crossing paths

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Like a Gas Leak

The street lights stoop over the four lane surface roads as we speed away from the strip where we've spent the night being tourists. My niece succumbed to sleep an hour ago at the pizza place, but jet lag combined with an afternoon helping my parents unload their moving truck has rendered me almost as useless as she.

I'm watching traffic flicker past, but I keep falling asleep mid-thought, only to awaken a few minutes, later having time travelled. My sister seems unconcerned, but the whole car is asleep except for her.

One year ago today:  Competitivee
Two years ago today: At the Opening
Three years ago today: Friendly Wine Make Friends
Five years ago today: Rrrrargh
Six years ago today: 11/22/10 snapshots of a commute

Tuesday, November 22, 2016


At my sister's house, I'm brushing my teeth while Katie takes a shower.

"The bathroom is so huge," she says over the water. We're used to being on top of one another in our Brooklyn apartment..

"I get agoraphobia sitting on the toilet, it's so big," she continues.

One year ago today: Seed
Two years ago today: Make-Up Work
Three years ago today: No Making Out Tonight
Six years ago today: 11/21/10 A little forceful

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Swimming Lessons

"We tried to teach her how to swim across the pool to the steps, you know, in case she fell in," my sister says, referring to their short-legged corgi. "But she would just freak out and swim over to the wall where she'd scramble with her tiny little legs trying to get out."

A few feet away, the tan and white dog sniffs down by the water's edge beneath a sky full of painted-on clouds. She realizes where she is and beats a hasty retreat.

Not Above it All

Their mother has disappeared somewhere, and now the two twin boys are in my flea market booth, eyes wide, yammering about butterflies.

"I think you could use them in a war," one says excitedly to the other.

"Yeah," says the other, grabbing his brother's hand distractedly, addressing me, "but you could only use them if you had a lot of them, and they'd probably be only good for defense."

Their mother arrives back at the booth wearing an apologetic smile, with a man in tow, probably their father, as the boy continues, "And they'd probably only survive if they flew really high."
One year ago today: Caught in the Act
Two years ago today: Scruffy, Part II
Three years ago today: Fall is Just the Space Between
Six years ago today: 11/19/10 late edition

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Boogie. Down.

I see him from across the street: the homeless guy who works our block during the day dancing in front of the empty storefront, boogieing hypnotically to his little boom box with his eyes closed. He sways, then stamps, shakes his hips, then does a little marching-style step that reminds me of close-order, military parade work.

A worrisome thought occurs to me - I saw him late last night, too, in the bank ATM vestibule where he usually sleeps, boogieing away, and I wonder if he's been doing it all night, all day, like some kind of "Red Shoes" thing where he can't stop dancing.

As soon as I get near him, though, he stops, with a sad, dejected look, and sort of shakes his head while he turns to change the song, as if all the dancing in the world isn't gonna make up for what's in his heart and head.

One year ago today: Good Intentions
Two years ago today: Attention Must Be Paid
Three years ago today: Picky

Thursday, November 17, 2016


"Well, everything looks good with your leg," the oncologist says as I zip up my pants and redo my belt. "And the scans look fine."

"And all my hair came back really curly!" I say, leaning forward and tousling the back of my head.

"Sometimes it does that," she says, smiling faintly at what I'm sure she's heard a million times, "and sometimes it comes back thinner."

One year ago today: Metta
Two years ago today: Apologizing for Existing
Three years ago today: Flight of the Hunter
Six years ago today: 11/17/10 But I have to stand somewhere too

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

How Others See Us

The young woman next to me on the train is watching me play Candy Crush on my phone. I get a couple of good moves in, clearing the screen of little multicolored lozenges, only to have them pour in from the top of the screen again, and in a couple of moves I end up losing, again.

As I see myself through this stranger next to me's eyes, I start to feel very self-conscious - why am I playing this stupid game, and what am I doing with my life, wasting the precious time I have on earth in a banal, useless pastime that helps no one and accomplishes nothing?

I click off the game, slip my phone back into my pocket, and surreptitiously glance over at the young woman to see if I have somehow redeemed myself, but she's staring right through me with the most crossed eyes I've ever seen, and I quickly turn away before I'm caught staring.
One year ago today: Watercooler Chatter
Two years ago today; Over-dramatic
Three years ago today: Almost Ready to Turn Off Cable
Six years ago today: 11/16/10 should stayed home and played Zelda one more day

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Politics at Dinner

Katie's dad leans back in his chair, and sips his iced tea.

"Okay, but the thing about that," I can hear my voice rising, and Katie touches my knee to let me know I'm getting too loud, but I keep talking, "the thing is that we're not the people who are going to have a problem. We're white!"

I'm about to continue, but the waiter appears at the head of our table with a forced smile, and asks if we're ready to order.
One year ago today: Not Really
Two years ago today: He Found Them
Three years ago today: Context
Five years ago today: 11/15/11 Allocating your time
Six years ago today: 11/15/10 ...and now I've got it too

Monday, November 14, 2016

Sounds Like It Hurt

"You know, I've got a tattoo, as well," my older friend says, leaning back on the couch with a wistful expression on his face. "I've had it for almost fifty years, and I can't even see it."

"Got it in southern California, back in the Sixties, when people were doing all sorts of things to themselves," he continues, his eyes all far away, then he leans in with a mischievous grin. 

"It's a bird flying out of my asshole," he whispers conspiratorially. 
One year ago today: Seriously?
Two years ago today: A Friendly World that Speaks
Three years ago today: Cultural Confusion
Six years ago today: 11/14/10 She's had a Cold

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Stand Clear of the Closing Doors

The boy sprints into the subway car and leaps up to sit between two very confused people on the bench opposite us, where he perches, swinging his legs and grinning at nothing in particular.

Behind him follows an old man with a metal cane and a kufi. He slowly makes his way to a vacant seat further down the bench from the boy and settles his bones.

The two of them sit for a moment, grinning boy and gently smiling old man, until the man leans forward and gives the boy a look, and the boy, still grinning his toothy grin, bounces up and comes down to sit next to his grandfather, where the two of them proceed to go through a shopping bag filled with bananas and pomegranates.
One year ago today: Deja Vu
Two years ago today: Fooling No One
Three years ago today: I want a perfect body, I want a perfect soul
Five years ago today: 11/13/11 I know how you feel, kid

Long Island Ice Tea

I'm fishing around in my pocket for a dollar for the guy sitting on a milk crate in front of the grocery store while he regales me.

"Those guys who look like," he gestures at my face, "they try to get me, and they drink that, that, you know - Jack Daniels, and their faces get all red. And they got me a like, a long island iced tea."

The shame starts creeping up my spine, since I can't find anything but a twenty, but I'm still trying to listen, and he says, "I watch him make the second one, and he threw the whole damn bar in there!"
One year ago today: She Doesn't Like Kids
Two years ago today: Showtime for One
Three years ago today: Not Exactly Suited for an Office
Five years ago today: 11/12/11 too soon?
Six years ago today: 11/12/10 Close Enough
Seven years ago today: 11/12/09 - Really, it's tougher on the people around me, that on me

Saturday, November 12, 2016


She stands on the brow of the hill with a compact, tightly muscled pit bull mix at her feet. He stares up at her with the devotion that only dogs and the deeply religious bestow until she squeezes the ball in her hand, making it squeak, which sends him sprinting down the hill, shushing through the fallen leaves.

He wasn't supposed to go until she threw it, though, so she calls him and he skulks back up the hill to her, as ashamed as a disobedient dog can be.

Nearby, a small pekingese tries to sneak away from her owners to go play with the ball and pit bull, but they call her back and she stops, hesitates, and gazes back at her longed-for ball, as if she can't decide whether to obey or not.
Two for one on the dog posts, today. One year ago today: Dog
Two years ago today: This Number is Out of Service
Five years ago today: 11/11/11 Fall Fell

Friday, November 11, 2016

Armchair Quarterbacks

"What if we made voting compulsory," I say. "That'll fix the issues with people avoiding being part of the census."

Katie considers this before saying, "Only if we can have an abstention option."

We high five, and, having solved the problem of the electoral college, go back to eating samosas and saag paneer.
One year ago today: Salieri
Two years ago today: Growing a Beard is No Real Disguise
Three years ago today: Flinty
Six years ago today: 11/10/10 Contrasts

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Women Be Hating

A quiet, depressive pall hangs over the office, and one woman leans on my desk with a look of defeat.

I let her vent for a while about how she can't believe what's happened until finally she leans in conspiratorially and says, "I mean, I don't think a woman should be president. Women, we're too emotional."

"But I'll vote for a woman any day over Trump!" she finishes forcefully.
One year ago today: Needs Work
Two years ago today: Am I Actually Nice?
Three years ago today: Maybe He Was Just Trying to Help
Five years ago today: 11/9/11 Waking Up is Hard to Do
Six years ago today: 11-9-10 Pie is too nice to be bad for you


We leave the rally on the west side of Manhattan as the numbers for Clinton look increasingly bleak, and catch a cab home. The woman driving is listening to election results in Spanish on the radio, and I know enough to catch every fifth word or so as we drive over the dark river towards the lights of Brooklyn.

She must have heard us talking about our disappointment in our candidate's defeat, because she changes the station to election coverage in english. Something about the gesture touches me, and makes me even sadder than I was before - once again, someone accommodating the white folks, helping us along.
One year ago today: Schrodinger's Lottery Ticket
Three years ago today: I got nothing
Five years ago today: 11/8/11 Sick holiday
Six years ago today: 11-8-10 my mini spooner

Monday, November 7, 2016


"Hold on," I say. "Somebody is wrong on the internet, and I have to tell them."

"And then you're going to turn your phone face down for the next twelve hours, right?" Katie says. "Otherwise you're going to be up all night just like me, at two, and four-fifteen, and right before your alarm goes off...."
One year ago today: What Else?
Two years ago today: When I Wore a Younger Man's Clothes
Three years ago today: It Only Takes a Spark
Five years ago today: 11/7/11 Instigator

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Suffragette City

"People want to be politically pure these days," I say to Katie during our discussion about suffragists, "and it's exhausting."

"People want other people to be pure," Katie corrects me. "And when they're not pure, they want to be forgiven."

"Which is why I'm over people these days," she adds over her shoulder as she heads to the kitchen to make coffee.
One year ago today: A Kind of Integrity
Two years ago today: Backtrack
Three years ago today: Making My Own Drama

The Opposite of Hyperbole

"I was looking at that one, too," I say to the other person flipping through the box of books left on the sidewalk as she picks up a book of cartoons and essays called Hyperbole-and-a-Half. "Especially since she doesn't post on her blog anymore, really."

"It's about her depression, right?" she replies in a low, affectless voice.

"Yeah, sort of," I say, shrugging.
One year ago today: A Kind of Integrity
Two years ago today: Look As Good You Will Not
Three years ago today: The Starvation Method
Five years ago today: 11/5/11 Remember, remember
Six years ago today: 11-5-10 Happy drums

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Concerned Bystanders

The doge comes off the stoop stairs a little too hot and eats it entirely, sprawling onto her back and struggling for a few moments waving her paws in the air like an upside down turtle before righting herself.

"Oh, sweetheart," I say, jumping down to her rescue several seconds too late, but nevertheless receiving a couple of desultory licks for my trouble. "Are you okay?"

The gentleman in the threadbare flatcap and the scuffed boots (is he homeless? just a working man?) saunters over curiously and says, in what sounds like an english accent, "Quite a spill she took."

One year ago today: Eating
Two years ago today: Just Like When I Was a Kid
Five years ago today: 11/4/11 That'll Work

Thursday, November 3, 2016


Finally finished with load-in for the flea, we drive the van back home beneath a graying sky. The wind has picked up, grabbing handfuls of leaves off the trees that bower over the brownstone lined avenue and scattering them through the air where they spin and fall, flutter and spin.

"It makes the air three-D," I say as we drive through the descending foliage.

"Yeah," Katie says, laughing, and I laugh too.
One year ago today: Living in the Past
Two years ago today: Lots of Folks Eat Ramen
Three years ago today: I Guess I Don't Either
Five years ago today: 11/3/11 The March of Sickness
Six years ago today: 11-3-10 Wake up in the morning feeling like P-Diddy

Time Flows Around Us

I was a bit distracted this summer, so I may be forgiven for missing the news, but it turns out that one of my favorite authors, David Mitchell, wrote a book this year that I will never get to read, as he has buried it in Norway until the year 2114 as part of a project called the Future Library.

Something about this, both the denial of a piece of art from an artist that I love and whose voice is a big part of me, and the simultaneous optimism (there will be a civilization in a hundred years) and realistic doom (you will certainly not be there to see it), got to me more than I expected.

"I'm really upset," I said to Katie through the shower curtain as she washed the day off of her, before taking the doge downstairs for her evening walk.

But halfway down, I was suddenly so struck by the desire to make something beautiful, anything worthy to live on past the annihilating wave of time, struck by the shortness of my life, your life, any life at all, that I found myself sitting on the stairs, crying angry, embarrassing tears, while the dog panted patiently behind me, unsure why we were stopped, but sure I had a good reason, even if she didn't know it.

One year ago today: New York is Burning
Two years ago today: Just Missed It
Three years ago today: I Guess I Don't Either
Five years ago today: 11/2/11 She who is not busy eating 9-Lives is busy dying
Six years ago today: 11-2-10 Acting out (staying in)

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Next In Line

The older lady picking up her laundry is supervising the asian woman putting the freshly washed and dried clothes into the bag, correcting her technique, making sure they're stacked exactly right.

"Just a minute," the asian woman says to me with an apologetic smile, and the woman, noticing me standing there for the first time, gives me an icy stare and then turns back to overseeing her clothes.

"No problem," I say, and even though an impatient howl is sitting just below my sternum, I compose my features and try not to freak out as the two of them negotiate several arcane niceties of folding before the asian woman goes to get the older woman's folding cart.

Slowly, without turning around or further acknowledging my presence, the older woman backs up until she's standing directly in front of me, creating a line of two, as if to make sure there's no confusion as to who was here first.

One year ago today: You Talk to Strangers
Two years ago today: Line
Three years ago today: Haunting the Bastard
Five years ago today: 11/1/11 - another morning
Six years ago today: 11-1-10 Sous chef rhapsody

Monday, October 31, 2016

Samhain Ninjas

It's a crowded sidewalk, so I barely notice, or mind, when somebody kicks my heel as we're shuffling down the street among the hordes of trick-or-treaters and their parents.

"Sorry," says the teen politely as he and his crew flow smoothly around us like a hunting pack of wolves. They all sport hoodies and loose-fitting, soft pants, and they swing around trees and leap gracefully over obstructive bags of trash, dipping in and out of pedestrian traffic, glorying in their ease and comfort with their bodies.

As one does a completely amazing flip, head-over-heels over a wall in front of the church, while another dances trippingly along the top of the same wall like he's walking down the middle of the street, I say, "They're ninjas," because they are.

One year ago today: I Alone Have Escaped to Tell Thee
Two years ago today: Halloween
Three years ago today: The D Train is Bat Country
Five years ago today: 10/31/11

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Weather, Man

After the third gust from the open kitchen window ransacks the pictures hanging on the fridge, I look up from my typing to see the backyard trees convulsing in the wind of a sudden storm.

Katie and I quickly run downstairs to watch the riot, only to find an older gentleman with kind eyes and no umbrella taking shelter from the rain on our stoop beneath the outcropping roof. 

We reassure him that there's no need for him to vacate, and chat amiably while the clouds rend and reform from tatters into dark masses high above.

"The wind came up all of a sudden," he says, gesturing widely, "and it just blew all the leaves and trash straight up in the air."
Two years ago today: Mansplaining Hiccups
Three years ago today: Another Show
Five years ago today: 10/30/11

The Horror

After watching a horror movie and arguing with Katie about why I can't hang (something about horror movies tends to precipitate an anxious existential crisis in me), I take the dog downstairs and, after she's done, sit on the front stoop to cool down.

A couple pass down the street, on their way to or from a party, together but walking separately, not speaking. I can tell they're together because they're wearing a couples costume - she's a fly, complete with wings and extra set of floppy, stuffed felt legs, while he's a green, fuzzy frog.

After some thinking, I've calmed down enough to go back upstairs (the problem's mostly with me, anyway), and I come back to myself to find the dog ready to go inside, staring past me to the door with a look of total longing, like she's been cast out of paradise forever.
One year ago today: Anachronistic
Two years ago today: Haibun Without Haiku
Three years ago today: Jesus is Magic, But Can He Play Keyboard?
Five years ago today: 10/29/11 In October?
Six years ago today: 10-29-10 Some things you have to pay for after you've already used them

Friday, October 28, 2016

Lowered Taxes

I walk through the underground at Union Square subway station, unafraid, in no danger, hurrying along with hundreds, thousands of other commuters on their way to work on a Friday morning.

There was a time, not too long ago, when New York was a place of crime and terror, when every venture out of doors was an invitation to mayhem, to robbery and thievery, to the dangerous tax on just being alive that was just the price you willingly paid to live in the Center of the Universe.

This morning, a string quartet performs at the top of the stairs down to the N, R, and Q platform, backed by a pristine white tile wall so clean as to be antiseptic.  A quiet, tasteful rendition of "Smooth Criminal" sings from their instruments, drifting above the white noise of the trains rumbling through the station, but everyone except the tourists ignores them completely.

One year ago today: So Much For Atmosphere
Two years ago today: Dinner Party (Nioi)
Five years ago today: 10/28/11 - What's the worst that could happen?
Six years ago today: 10-28-10 reminds me of the day I proposed

Thursday, October 27, 2016

A Walk in the Rain

The dog clambers down the stoop onto the wet sidewalk, takes a beat, and then, as the rain pours down, looks up at me with the most accusing eyes I've ever seen.

Once I get her to walk again (she sniffs in disgust at her low, quickly moistening state), we walk over to her favorite tree, but once there, she noses the ground a couple times, and then, lifting her paws gingerly, pulls me away.

We go to another, scrawnier tree, so skinny we don't normally allow her to pee on it for fear of killing the withering thing, but she somehow knows that the deluge has suspended the rules, and she does her business in the rain.

Back inside, her fur glistens as if dusted in diamonds, until I try to wipe her down with a Shamwow, and suddenly she's like some kind of enormous, bristly sponge, with a vaguely doggy smell.

One year ago today: Not As Helpful As I Could Have Been
Two years ago today: Hands
Three years ago today: That's That
Five years ago today: 10-27-11 safe
Six years ago today: 10-27-10 let's pretend

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Subways and Means

"Now, you're not pushing me on purpose, are you?" I finally say, turning to the woman who's been shoving what feels like a purse full of bricks into the small of my back for the entire train ride.

"No!" she says, pointing over her shoulder to a tiny, curly-headed child gripping the pole by the door who looks like he's about to be swallowed up in the crowd.

"Let's give you some room," I say, mashing myself into the subway pole, and she flashes me a grateful look as the entire car redistributes its mass around them.

I feel that familiar rush of pleasure I get at being helpful, but the remnants of the adrenaline hum of aggression I was about to unleash on the woman I thought was pushing me spoil my self-congratulatory joy.


One year ago today: Risky
Two years ago today: Cat Scratch, No Fever
Three years ago today: This Sounds Kinda Perfect
Six years ago today: 10-26-16 (though I could still use the money)

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Please Don't Tell My Boss

"I'm good," I say to my friend at work. "It's just, staring at the screen all day and not moving around, I really don't belong in an office."

She shakes her head sadly. "No you don't."
One year ago today: Walking Distance
Two years ago today: The Time of the Season
Six years ago today: 10-25-10 - the hutch

Monday, October 24, 2016

Professional Boundaries

"I woke up at exactly 2:13," says my boss, newly returned today from a couple of weeks out after surgery on his shoulder, "and I couldn't go back to sleep." The pain was keeping him up.

What I want to say is, "Well, you know what helped me sleep after my surgery, though, is weed."

But instead all I say is, "Oh, man, I know how that feels."
One year ago today: Nodding Off
Two years ago today: Whining Hypochondria
Three years ago today: Star-crossed Lovers

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Locked Out

The truck is almost packed - just one more load from upstairs and we'll be ready to go to the flea market for the day to sell Katie's sculptures. I have that soft, pleasant, baseline hum of adrenaline that comes from working at something you like to do.

When I get back to the front door of the apartment building, though, Katie is still waiting for me, and that niggling worry I hadn't even known was there blossoms from unconscious anxiety into full blown panic.

"Do you have your keys?" she asks, as I begin to pat my pockets frantically.
Two years ago today: Reincarnation/Rumination
Three years ago today: Autumn Scents

(Another) Brief Encounter

The serpentine bas-relief carvings above the dormer windows on the old stone building look like they could be dragons, maybe, but I can't tell for sure from where I'm standing across the street.

The harder I look, the more elaborate and abstract they appear, and I fall further and further into their intricacies until I realize that I'm leaning so far forward that I've gotten severely off-balance, and for a brief second I have the stomach-dropping sensation that I'm about to fly off the curb straight up into the sky.

I catch myself and rock back on my heels until I'm sufficiently grounded again, only to find I'm looking into the window of a car parked next to me, where a large black man is holding up a chihuahua and babbling to it like it's a baby.

He sees me, seeing him, and we have a moment of eye contact before he gives me a huge, toothy grin so I can't help but smile back, and he goes back to cooing at his dog.

One year ago today: Doggie Facebook
Two years ago today: Candy (Sour)
Three years ago today (I wonder how long I had cancer?): Far Away
Six years ago today: 10-22-10 Fall arrives - we fight off the chill

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Here Come the Cold Jets

Dully glittering slivers of jet airplanes sharpen their bent wings across a stony sky.  They slice the firmament like almost invisible razors, high over Park Slope on approach to JFK.

The silhouette of a bird flaps heavily across the street, a controlled, directional tumble of feathers and muted noise just overhead.  The bird, body of bone and feather and beak, is something awkward and alive, while the jets just look obscenely linear, surgical and unnatural, the product of a mind of steel and wheels.
One year ago today: Mundane
Two years ago today: Sunset (Bitter)
Three years ago today: Magic is Just Spending More Time on Something Than Any Reasonable Person Would
Six years ago today: 10-21-10 The days are long, but the years are short

Thursday, October 20, 2016

More than a Server

The waitress's smile collapses as she remembers our earlier conversation."I know I said I would discount your meal because I forgot to put in the order," she says, stammering, "but, but I forgot to add the discount."

"It's okay," I say.

"I'm studying for a test right now, and my mind is...," she rolls her eyes up and clasps her hands at her heart.
One year ago today: Delayed
Two years ago today: Healthy Eating (Salt)
Three years ago today: Clowns are Nothing to Worry About

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Right of Way

The woman with the stroller at the bottom of the stairs finally gives up waiting for people to let her up and, hoisting contraption and toddler, starts climbing.

She shoves past her sole obstacle, a woman in a thin, sleeveless dress and wedges coming down the same stairs, using her kid and her stroller as a battering ram. Words are exchanged, but since I have headphones in, I am not privy to the content, though I can guess from the expression sleeveless dress has when she gets to the platform that they didn't compliment one another on their exquisite taste in fashion or infant conveyances.

Battle over, she stares up with dead, cold eyes at the retreating form of the woman with the stroller, like she's trying to memorize her features so she can recall them for the benefit of the prosecution on judgement day,

One year ago today: Accelerate Out of Danger
Two years ago today: Bitter/Sweet
Three years ago today: Saved

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

The Vegetarian Murderer

I smoothly grab a thick sheaf of papers off the bookshelf (the top page a letter from a collection agency, demanding payment for library fines), and fold it in half lengthwise. The fly on the lintel above the closet remains undisturbed, unaware, perhaps, of his impending doom.

But I have to move slowly, carefully, and I do, inching my way up until I'm poised above him, my hand with its bundle of pages ready to strike.

And with a resounding thwack, I bring the hammer down, leaving a thin, black smear on the paint, and a small, spindly mess of legs and wings on the paper, my heart singing it's own, thin, triumphant song: "Die, die, die."
One year ago today: Jealous Again
Two years ago today: A Metaphor For So-Called Post-Racial Discourse in America

Monday, October 17, 2016

Big Bird

Dusk, and the dog and I are out walking, both of us doing our own thing - her head down focusing on her business, me focused on her doing her business.

"I have to tell somebody," a voice says behind me, and I turn to find a blonde woman carrying an equally tow-headed child coming up to me. "There's a red-tailed hawk up on that air conditioner," she continues excitedly, pointing past my shoulder, and sure enough, there it perches, across the street on top of a window unit on the second floor, its breast feathers ruffling proudly in the wind.

"Well, you told the right person, 'cause I am super into stuff like this," I reply, while the dog noses around the light post, ignoring our enthusiasm.
Three years ago today: Is There a (Cat) Ghost in My House?


"Well, what address did you gave Uber?" Katie says, after the little icon of the car drives past our little blue dot on the Uber app.

"I just sent the location where we were," I say, and I cringe to hear the whining in my voice as she sighs and starts walking to the address it shows on my phone, a block away.

"I really don't understand why you're being so rigid," she says. I don't know how to explain that I feel like I spend my whole life being flexible, and adjusting for other people, and for once I want something to just work, dammit.
One year ago today: We'll Do it Live
Two years ago today: Another World
Three years ago today: Literally Full of It

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Party (Fire) Foul

We retire from the dance floor and make our way down the hill to the fire pit below. The band continues to play today's hits and the usual wedding favorites (though "September" never seemed to come up on the list, for some reason).

We warm ourselves after the cool air of an October evening, until, with the fire getting low, I throw a couple of logs on the fire just as the breeze shifts, and sparks and smoke swirl around and then billow over the couple sitting across the fire from us.

I apologize profusely as they stand up, coughing and squinting through the haze.

Friday, October 14, 2016


"Were you nervous?" Katie gently asks about the speech I gave at the rehearsal dinner.

"Yeah," I admit.

We walk across the dark parking lot and into the brightly lit hotel lobby.

"Actually, part of it was," I say, "that the room was a little dark, and I couldn't read."

Thursday, October 13, 2016


After the doge's walk, I stop at the downstairs neighbors' apartment to discuss some things, and, knowing how little she likes other people, I'm unsurprised to find that the doge has continued upstairs without me.

But when I get up to our floor, Coco is nowhere to be found. I wait a minute, and finally go one more flight up.

She's standing at the end of the hall upstairs, in the dark, eyeing warily the ladder that leads to the roof, clearly unable to remember this part of her nightly journey, but seriously trying to figure out the next step, since that's apparently what we're doing.

One year ago today: Jet Lag
Two years ago today: Junk Shop

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Fake Out

The usual oversized hospital gowns, which normally come in heavy, navy blue cotton, are nowhere to be found, and instead I have to make do with these tiny, thin, white, almost see-through things that barely reach down to mid thigh. As I stand around (sitting would be a bit too revealing), waiting to get dosed with radiation again, I have a sudden access of sympathy for woman who wear short skirts, as the vulnerability of being so exposed like this must be excruciating.

I cross my legs and tap my knuckle idly on the wood top of a divider wall that separates the hall from the waiting area, and in doing so I notice the lovely grain of the blond wood, but something about it seems off, to me. I follow it around the width of the board and, sure enough, the grain doesn't match the end, or even the sides of the wood, and the tapping of my knuckle causes the wood to knock hollowly, almost as if the thing were made of plastic, beneath the faux wood veneer.

One year ago today: A Long Day
Two years ago today: A Man in the Kitchen
Three years ago today: Touchdown

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Street Scenes

The cabs flow down Lexington Avenue like smooth, yellow fishes, ads perched on their roofs like fins, trying to hook me: electronic cigarettes, Broadway musicals, gentlemen's clubs. The advertisement becomes more important that the thing that carries it, until the two tons or so of hulking steel speeding along the asphalt almost disappears, and the ad takes up all of my vision.

Later, a rugged looking man walking by a playground picks up an errant ball that rolled onto the sidewalk and enthusiastically tosses it back to one of the kids. I catch his eye, and he tries to hide his smile, embarrassed that I saw, even for a second, how much he wanted to join the game.
One year ago today: We Give it Life
Two years ago today: Morning - Five (Do You See What I See?)
Three years ago today: What They Really Think

Monday, October 10, 2016

Faith of Fall

New York really puts on her finest when she dresses up for fall: her bluest sky, her brightest sun, her faintest moon rising pale and mysterious in the daylight over the East River. I walked through Manhattan on the way to treatment, reveling in the glorious day, a cool breeze idly frisking the fallen leaves already beginning to fill the streets.

When I finally come to First Avenue, I turn the corner to find a little bread-colored church illuminated into holiness in a shaft of light like the very smile of heaven come to bless a small corner of the world, where even the golden cross perched on top beams in the beneficent glow.

I quickly lift my phone, snap a shot, and text it to Katie with the caption, "What a lovely day!"


The day's soaking gloom and wet, heavy clouds retreat as a cold, autumn wind rushes in and sweeps the sky clean. Low, golden sun burns through the remnants of the storm at the horizon to our backs, bathing the buildings and street ahead in a honeyed light.

Katie, riding in the passenger seat of the van I'm driving home from the flea market where we sat in freezing twilight for the past eight hours, flips the visor down and squints out through the glare of the dirty windshield at the now luminous flow of traffic before announcing, "I didn't even bring my sunglasses."

"Why would you have?" I reply without looking over.
One year ago today: In Peace Park, Hiroshima
Two years ago today: Morning - Four (Noseblind)
Three years ago today: In Spite of Myself