Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Always Wear A Helmet

I pull over on the sidewalk right after I leave my friend's house, the lights on my bike flashing red and green in the night, and text Katie: "I'm leaving now! (I'm so sorry I didn't text when I arrived.)"

After I get underway again, the streets are quiet, until, without warning, the wind whips up, thrashing the branches of trees above.

Suddenly it's like I'm in a video game, dodging falling acorns as they clatter on the asphalt and set off alarms on all the parked cars.
--------------
One year ago: Locked Out
Two years ago: Nodding Off
Three years ago: Reincarnation/Rumination
Four years ago: Autumn Scents

Monday, October 23, 2017

Accomplishments

The doge, having pooped once already on this, the final walk of the evening, has decided, after I've already bagged up her refuse and thrown it away, that she's still got one in the chamber, so I wait patiently as she squats beside the tree, and I pull out another bag with a resigned sigh.

A kid on a bike rides by carrying a large, metal chair over one shoulder, steering with his one free hand, and riding down the middle of the street with the insolent grace of youth.

He takes us all in at once - me and the dog, me standing by, the dog in her not-entirely-dignified pose, - locks eyes with me, and favors us with a grin.

"I get shit done," he says, and pedals away, through the red light, to vanish into the Brooklyn night.
----------
One year ago: (Another) Brief Encounter
Two years ago: Doggie Facebook
Three years ago: Candy (Sour)
Four years ago: Far Away
Seven year ago: Fall Arrives - We Fight Off The Chill

Sunday, October 22, 2017

The Cleaning Lady Out Is Out Sick

"It's amazing how quickly our house can go from clean to pig-sty," Katie says, rummaging around in the kitchen.

"I resent that," I say.

"What?"

"Pigs are very clean animals."
---------------------
One year ago: Here Come The Cold Jets
Two years ago: Mundane
Three years ago: Sunset (Bitter)
Four years ago: Magic Is Just Spending More Time On Something Than Any Reasonable Person Would
Seven years ago: The Days Are Long, But The Years Are Short

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Don't Get Murdered

The long, empty halls of the storage space, with their flickering fluorescent lights and exposed duct work, are a little unnerving. 

More unnerving, though, is the guy sitting quietly in the storage space next to ours, with his legs poking out into the hall, eating a banana - nothing else, just eating a banana.

He doesn't say anything, but gets up and leaves, and I go about my business. 

The motion detectors get bored, though, and the lights in the place automatically shut off, plunging me into darkness so that, for just a second, I wonder if he's out there, waiting for me.
----------------
One year ago: More Than A Server
Two years ago: Delayed
Three years ago: Healthy Eating (Salt)

Friday, October 20, 2017

Check My Work

I come out of the bathroom at the cocktail party with the front of my shirt almost completely wet, but it looks like I got the wine stain out. I try to decide if I should be embarrassed or not, shrug, and figure no one is really paying that close attention anyway.

"I think I got it," I tell Katie a little later when I find her admiring a painting.

"I would have spent the rest of the night scrubbing it out if you hadn't," she says seriously after checking my work.
------------------
One year ago: Right Of Way
Two years ago: Accelerate Out Of Danger
Three years ago: The Antique Shop (Umami)
Four years ago: Clowns Are Nothing To Worry About

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

House Of Many Dogs

Both the dog and I stumble blearily to the door for her morning walk. When I open the door, though, I hear an exclamation from downstairs that stops us in our tracks. 

Up the stairs comes a scampering streak of a small black dog named Val, and she blazes past the frozen, stiff-legged Coco (who gives me a look like, "Are you kidding me with this shit?"), to go sniffing around our apartment, tail wagging mischievously.

Our downstairs neighbor comes running up the stairs after his dog, and I scoop Val up with a smile to pass her back to her mildly embarrassed owner.
--------------
Two years ago: Jealous Again
Three years ago: Bitter/Sweet
Four years ago: Saved

A Nice Walk Saved

I'm stuck on the final scene in my story, so I take a walk down Prospect Park West to try to dislodge my thoughts, strolling beneath bowering trees, light playing between the leaves, talking to myself, making brilliant points and discarding them again.

And since I'm already at 8th Street, I might as well walk the rest of the way down to 9th Street and back over to 7th Avenue to my favorite donut shop, because I deserve a damn donut.

Then, walking back up 7th Avenue with my donut nestled in its curled up white paper bag, admiring the lovely day I seem to be having, I think how great it would be to have an errand to run, to justify my long detour around the neighborhood.

With a gasp and a cold thrill in my stomach, I suddenly recall my morning conversation with Katie, that I actually DO have an errand to run, and I only barely remembered before I got home and missed it.
-----------------
One year ago: Big Bird
Two years ago: Marry Your Opposite
Three years ago: A Metaphor For So-Called Post-Racial Discourse In America
Four years ago: Is There a (Cat) Ghost In My House?

Monday, October 16, 2017

Special Delivery

"The boxes are here, aren't they?" I say as Katie picks up the phone.

"Great! And you're downstairs?" she says to the delivery guy on the other end of the line with a smile/grimace, nodding.

"Well, guess I'll go put on pants," I say.
---------------
One year ago: Rigid
Two years ago: We'll Do It Live
Three years ago: Another World
Four years ago: Literally Full of It

Sunday, October 15, 2017

House of Pain

"My arms hurt," Katie says with a look of concern. "To the point where I'm actually worried I may have injured them working today."

Wordlessly, I open up the bottle of ibuprofen and hand her four tablets, and she wanders off to look for her water bottle to take them.

Later, as I'm bringing the dog back upstairs from her walk, I pause on the landing to let my legs rest, because they hurt from standing all day.
------------
One year ago: Party (Fire) Foul
Two years ago: Breakin'
Three years ago: Closing Time
Four years ago: There It Is (I Has The Dumb)

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Is It A Mani Or A Pedi?

When we get to the dog-groomer, the doge's near-chipper attitude (chipper for her, anyway) takes a sharp right turn into alarm as she figures out where we are and why we're here. The person-in-a-muppet-costume of a dog lying in front of the door doesn't help matters, adding physical bulk to the already existential panic the dog is currently undergoing. Coco braces all four legs at the door and has to be (gently) dragged inside.

"Sorry, she really doesn't like anything," I call after the groomer as he picks her up and carries into the back to get her nails trimmed.
-------------------
One year ago: Presbyopia
Two years ago: Plowing
Three years ago: Leaners
Four years ago: Scent of Home

Mint

My friend's bout with food poisoning isn't going well, so I hand him a stick of gum, which he takes with a little confusion.

"When I was in high school, I got sick in the bathroom right before a big show where I had a saxophone solo," I explain, "and this elderly black jazz musician gave me a stick of gum to settle my stomach."

"So tonight you are my elderly black jazz musician," he says with a pained smile.

"Yeah, let's just keep that between us," I demur.
----------------
One year ago: Tenacious
Two years ago: Jet Lag
Three years ago: Junk Shop
Four years ago: Social Realism Isn't Easy

Friday, October 13, 2017

Lift Every Voice

After dropping off my (massively overdue) books at the library, I decide to take the long way down Flatbush to the drugstore.

My new contact lenses, combined with the crisp fall air, make everything sharp and lovely, and I'm happy despite the fact that the reason I'm going to the drugstore is to pick up my first pair of reading glasses that I apparently need now.

We're at the end of the Jewish holiday of Sukkot, and a large group of young Jewish men are walking the same direction I'm going, about as boisterous as any group of twenty or so young men would be.

One begins to sing in Hebrew, the entire group joins in, and their joyful song carries me down the street, buoyed into the sunset.
------------------
One year ago: Fake Out
Two years ago: A Long Day
Four years ago: Two Men, One Skirt, and One Pair of Underwear

Thursday, October 12, 2017

True Names

"On the way home I saw Caesar," an old wolfhound mix in the neighborhood we're both fond of, "and he had a cone on from surgery."

"You mean Serge?" Katie asks with an indulgent smile.

Do I forget the names of things, people, dogs, because secretly, secret even from myself, I know there are truer names than the ones we give, true names at the essence of things, of which our appellations are only approximations?

"Oh God, and she was too polite to even correct me," I groan.
-----------------
One year ago: Street Scenes
Two years ago: We Give It Life
Three years ago: A Man In The Kitchen
Four years ago: Touchdown 

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Keep It

"A half-pound of...," I pull up the list on my phone, "thinly-sliced Boar's Head bologna, please."

The woman behind the counter unwraps a long, dense, pink cylinder and feeds it into the spinning blade of a steel and white porcelain slicer. As the machine whirs to a stop, she comes back to where I'm standing with a single, almost translucent disc of the stuff and makes to hand it to me, saying, "That's your sample slice."

"I'm sorry," I say apologetically, "I don't eat meat."
----------------------
One year ago: Faith of Fall
Four years ago: What They Really Think

Monday, October 9, 2017

Can Confirm

Heavy rain paints New York like a color-blind impressionist, all hazy outlines and variations on the color gray. Katie and I are driving a truck through Manhattan to the storage space.

"I was watching 'Barney Miller' with your mom the other night," I say, "and I told her that show and 'Sesame Street' were my basic ideas of what New York was gonna be like before I moved here."

"And I was right," I add, gesturing to the view out the windshield.
----------------
One year ago: Unneeded
Two years ago: In Peace Park, Hiroshima
Three years ago: Morning - Four (Noseblind)
Four years ago: In Spite of Myself

Networking

Outside the U-Haul place, one of the guys separates himself from the eager throng of people offering their services as itinerant movers, and approaches us while we wait for the truck.

We refuse him, with thanks, and he doesn't take it amiss, instead offering to give us his card, which we take. Katie moves to photograph it, and I ask if, once we've got it on her phone, if we should give it back so he can give it to someone else.

"Eh, it's probably fine," Katie says, showing me the "card," which is just a cut up piece of a neon green index card, on which he's written his name and phone number in a barely legible scrawl.
------------------
One year ago: Vision Problems
Two years ago: History
Three years ago: Morning - Three (Contrasts)
Four years ago: Sponsored By Nobody
Seven years ago; a few words on the meta-narrative

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Distracted

It happens almost every day: a person walks by the booth filled with Katie's art, their eyes glazed over with the surfeit of stimulation. Their eyes light on her work with surprise and delight, and, for a minute, they're present and paying attention. I can see the distractions consuming them drop away, and a real person steps forward into the driver's seat of their personality.

But only for a moment - someone bumps them, or speaks to them, or they just kind of space out, the dullness washes across their face, and they're gone.
---------------------
One year ago: City of Sound
Two years ago: Smile
Three years ago: Morning - Two (Listen)
Four years ago: Simplification


Friday, October 6, 2017

Atavistic

"Actually," I tell the downstairs neighbors, "lately I've taken to wearing earplugs to bed, because the dog wakes up in the middle of the night and tries to dig to China."

"And then goes, 'Ha!'" John adds, imitating her dry, frantic bark.

After I apologize, Ellen assures me she finds the dog's constant comment almost comforting in the middle of the night.

"Maybe it's easier to sleep knowing that somebody is awake at the edge of the fire, like, if the wolves come, Coco will save us," I say.
--------------
Three years ago: Morning - One (Psalm 34:8)
Four years ago: A Glimpse of Darkness


Not Much To Give

I come out of the eye doctor's exam room to the receptionist to render my co-pay. "I need to give you some money," I say cheerfully.

This makes her laugh. "You can give me all of it, if you're offering," she says with a wicked grin.
-------------
One year ago: Bucket
Two years ago: Directions
Three years ago: A Possibly Plagiarized Dimensional Theory of Literature
Four years ago: A Glimpse of Darkness
Seven years ago: Many Changes Make for Renewal


Thursday, October 5, 2017

Little Help?

"Spare a dollar?" John asks in a nasal voice from where he haunts our stoop. Despite him being almost colorless as a person, I still find him grating in a way that I'm not proud of, nor can I explain my reaction to him.

We're not really able to ask for what we want, because we don't just want a dollar, or a cigarette, or for that pretty girl to "smile,": we're hungry, or bored, or lonely, but we don't know it, or how to say it, so we can't actually help each other.

"Sorry, man," I say, like always.
-------------
One year ago: Aspirations
Two years ago: Bodhisattva Vow
Three years ago: Self-Esteem
Four years ago: Good Job!

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Trained

"I'm gonna go take a shower while you do that," Katie says.

"I always watch you do stuff to keep you company," I reply as I continue to prepare dinner for her mom.

"Yeah, come watch me do this," she says from around the corner, and when I come out, she's doing this demented dance like an old man's version of The Twist.

"Goddamn it, see how well you've got me trained?" I say, walking back to the kitchen shaking my head.
----------------
One year ago: Heavy Feels
Two years ago: Better Without God
Three years ago: The Evening Commute - Five (Diverge)
Four years ago: Rock Star

Monday, October 2, 2017

All Joking Aside

Lou at the unemployment office fancies himself a bit of a card.

"You've only been married seven years? I've been married twenty-seven and I've got five stents in my heart to prove it: three for my wife and one for each kid."

"Actually, my family is beautiful, and I'm incredibly blessed by them," he adds humbly.
------------------------------
One year ago: All In How You Carry Yourself
Two years ago: Speak Low
Three years ago: The Evening Commute - Four (Fractured Ambient)
Four years ago: Invisible Subways

Diva

He busts through the door between the subway cars like a diva taking the stage, the clattering of his crutches drowned out by the soapy music blaring from his bluetooth speaker. He sings along with the tune in Spanish and periodically shakes his cup, extracting a few grudging dollars from the commuters.

He hops down the car, singing over the music as it rises to a delirious, sentimental climax, until he reaches the next set of doors, whereupon the music abruptly stops. He passes through to the next car, rewinding the song as he goes to the exact moment he needs for the grand entrance designed specifically to wow his presumably breathlessly waiting devotees.
-----------
One year ago: Self-Checkout
Two years ago: Tokyo Morning/Night
Three years ago: The Evening Commute - Three (Stream)
Four years ago: Do I Remember What I Saw? Or The Words I Used To Describe It?

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Four Buildings

1. The peak of the roof, a false fourth floor on an otherwise unremarkable red brick building, festooned with what looks like flowered terracotta tiles, reads "1886", which I can only assume is the year of construction, but the the thing looks so humble, ordinary, nondescript, that I can't believe it dates from before Brooklyn was even a part of New York City.

2. Yellow breeze block, industrial squat and businesslike, but framed above in blue sky and scudding clouds, with a sluggish green river below, all viewed through a lattice of scaffold.

3. Swimming with hard-hatted workers, swathed in funereal gray netting, like mirrors shrouded for a shiva house mourning the death of the old West Side.

4. There's a crack that runs from the street, through the sidewalk, and up the front of my building, and at least once a year I think about what it will be like when the earth opens up and swallows my home.
----------------
One year ago: The Question
Two years ago: Our New Friend
Four years ago: True Story

Friday, September 29, 2017

Leather Shoes

When I describe the butterfly sculptures Katie makes, there's always one person who takes the side of the bugs, and today, it's this lady.

"But isn't it sad that the butterflies died?" she says, her face twisting up in a show of pity.

"It's funny, isn't it," I say, as if I'm musing about something altogether unrelated to her question, "that the people who say that are often wearing leather belts, or shoes, or carrying around leather bags."

"That's true," she says, nodding in agreement, and I get to watch with great satisfaction the realization slowly dawn across her face as she figures out to whom I'm referring.
-------------
One year ago: Speaking Too Soon
Two years ago: I Feel The Jerk
Three years ago: The Evening Commute - One

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Four Subways

1. The doors shut with him on the wrong side, and he smiles a forced grin, teeth bared, as if he'd like to bite something.

2. Pressed up against the door, peering deep into her phone, long straight hair shrouding her bored expression.

3. If the C comes then I'll take that to Hoyt and transfer to the G to 7th Avenue and walk down to the donut shop but then the A comes and so it's that to West 4th to transfer to the F to 7th Avenue and I still get donuts.

4. The descent from the highest train station in New York City (in the world!) sends us soaring over apartment buildings and shops below, and for just a second, we're above it all, but the woman sitting next to me grooves to the music in her headphones, oblivious to the gorgeous view, happy anyway.
-------------
One year ago: Work It Out
Three years ago: Dolly Zoom
Four years ago: Cat People vs. Dog People

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Stress Shed

The dog, demented old thing that she is, stands at the door and barks at the nothing with hysterical ferocity.

Our admonitions and attempts to reassure her help not at all, so finally I just scoop her up and start carrying her around with me (her thick floofy weight against my chest, her tongue lolling out of her crooked head), which seems to calm her some until we finally settle on the couch to watch TV.

She's alright for a while, still keeping a watchful eye on the door for whatever her calcifying brain thinks is coming, but eventually her vigilance turns to agitation, and she's squirming on my lap, twisting and whining.

When I finally let her down I am covered in a thin scum of gray fur, and she staggers back to the door to confront her incorporeal pursuer again.
------------------
One year ago: I'm An Object Lesson
Two years ago: Final Push
Three years ago:"We Haven't Had That Spirit Here Since 1969"
Four years ago: That's Not What I Asked

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Four Men

1. Bald on top, a ring of bushy hair over the ears and wrapping around the back of the head, heavy set in an ill-fitting gray suit with red sports backpack, hunched over, asleep like a child sleeps, unselfconscious and innocent.

2. Coughing, but in Russian.

3. Suspicious, as if I might be eyeing the woman he so clearly believes he possesses.

4. Black doo rag and a thick frayed nylon belt the same shade, itching a pencil-thin mustache with his index finger wrapped in a bandage tinted pink with what might be blood.
-----------------
One year ago: Perfectly Decent
Two years ago: Performance Anxiety
Four years ago: What's Her Story

Monday, September 25, 2017

Four Women

1. With an expression that confronts everything she sees as a mildly unpleasant surprise.

2. Working out her own grimoire in tattoos on bruised skin.

3. Can't operate the camera on her iPhone.

4. The metallic screech of the subway on the walls of the tunnel makes her cover her eyes with weary hands.
-----------------
One year ago: His Life Matters
Two years ago: Holey Soles
Three years ago: So Close, Yet So Far
Four years ago: All Us Babies

Do You Even Lift?

I'm double parked in the Uhaul outside Katie's office while she runs upstairs, and the traffic is backed up all along the block.

A tan, good-looking dude-bro in a baseball cap leans out of the cab stopped next to me with his hand up, shouting, "High five, dude!"

Sure, why not, so I lean out and give him his high-five, noticing as I do how thick and strong his hand is, but smooth, soft, and uncalloused, as if he's never worked a day in his life.

As the light changes, his very attractive girlfriend leans across the seat and says earnestly, "Good luck with your move."
-----------------
One year ago: They Don't Make Me Money
Two years ago: Dog v. God
Three years ago: Ice Cream Sutra
Four years ago: Snapshots of Prospect Park

Saturday, September 23, 2017

About All It Deserved

Though it's large for a Brooklyn grocery store, the aisles are in no way large enough to accommodate this couple, and their shopping cart, and their stroller; and yet, here we are.

As I try to slide between them and the shelves of coffee, the husband smiles apologetically, while the wife refuses to make eye contact, even as she hops her industrial-grade stroller out of my way.

We find ourselves again going opposite directions in the bread aisle, and I joke, "We have to stop meeting like this." The husband gives this a half-hearted laugh.
-------------------------------
One year ago: Just Try
Two years ago: Not Great
Three years ago: In The Board Room
Four years ago: Winter is a Hill

Bad Manners

"It's not really like anything I've written before," I respond to my friend asking:"So how's the writing going?" I proceed to launch into a very long and detailed explanation of my new story, which everyone at the table very kindly listens to.

Later that night, when I'm separating the recycling (metal, glass, plastic in one clear blue bag, paper and cardboard in another) I cringe a little at having dominated the conversation like that. 

"You know," I say to Katie as she brushes her teeth before bed, "it's like this: the writer is the guy who, when somebody asks how his work is going, has the bad manners to actually tell them."
------------------------
One year ago: Invisible
Two years ago: Sick Day
Three years ago: All You Had To Do Was Ask
Four years ago: Nice While It Lasted

Friday, September 22, 2017

*Emails Have Been Changed To Protect The Innocent

Typing email addresses in for a group email, the vagaries of age are really kicking my ass:  I have to take off my glasses and actually lean in to read the names.

Email addresses were one of the first things in the computer age that we as a culture got to choose for ourselves, and we weren't all that great at it, to start out, or so some of the "aol.com" and "hotmail.com" addresses would lead me to believe. I'm sure no one expected betrayed2403@aol.com*,  or silentgypsy72@hotmail.com* to follow them around for the rest of their lives.

Not that I did much better, though 25 year old me would put the number 69 in his email address when he's just making it up, wouldn't he?
----------------
One year ago: In Media, Rest
Two years ago: Burning Eden
Three years ago: The Burden of Our Early Work

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Right Tool For The Job

"Oh my God, you're literally yelling at the TV," Katie says with a look of distress. On the screen, a beautiful celebrity emotes through dozens of smash cuts of heightened, tastefully shot wealth-porn over a grandiose soundtrack, culminating in a hardsell pitch for... perfume.

"But, I mean," I say gesturing wildly, "it's just so..., I mean..., just look at it!"

"Honey," she says, placing a gentle hand on my arm, "if you want to yell, that's what Twitter is for."
---------------
One year ago: Careful What You Ask For
Two years ago: People Watching
Three years ago: Starting Over
Four years ago: How Can I Hate You If You Insist On Not Being Hateful?

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Negotiating

"Okay, but this whole having-to-pay-for-the-three-months-rental-all-at-once thing is kinda..., you kinda sprung that on us, so uh, is there a way for us to go month to month?"

The storage space rental admin pretends to look at something on her screen, and in that moment, I know she knows I've got no leverage. I can feel her tuning me out, prolonging the moment as the air leaves the room before the phone rings.

When she hangs up: "Yes, that was the owner, and unfortunately, if you want the first month free, you'll have to pay the full amount up front."
----------------
One year ago: New
Two years ago: Unguarded
Three years ago: Drawing Attention
Four years ago: Priorities

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Mild Synesthesia

"Really, almost all 'J' names are green," I say thoughtfully. The tables next to us at the restaurant are absorbed in their own conversations, and candlelight glitters through our glasses of wine, a deep ruby red flame.

"What about 'Katie?'" she asks.

"Katie is orange, of course," I reply matter-of-factly.
---------------------
One year ago: Gloomy Imaginings
Two years ago: Deescalation
Three years ago: Cab Thoughts
Four years ago: Flying
Eight years ago: Get The Cool Shoeshine

Monday, September 18, 2017

Close Talker

I pass the bottles of seltzer and the large plastic container of spinach over the scanner at the self checkout, then the sausage and another bottle of seltzer.

"So I told him he needed to get working before I found somebody else to do the job," the guy on his cell phone says. He pushes his cart right up to my scanner and stands right next to me, badly invading my space.

My iciest look is of no avail, though, since his phone apparently puts up this social barrier that makes it impossible to see other people, even through he's practically standing on my foot.
--------------------------------
One year ago: Catharsis
Two years ago: Perseverance
Three years ago: Aliquet Fuge
Four years ago: Birds of a Feather
Eight years ago: Because I Promised

Sunday, September 17, 2017

The Ascension

I'm singing Gram Parsons to the doge as she stands hesitating at the bottom of the stairs.

I get the door open just as I hit the rocking part of my favorite verse: He swore the fiercest beasts could all be put to sleep the saaaame silly way. A woman strolls past and slows to watch our little tableau play out with a smile on her face.

The doge, unaware of anything but the task at hand, with an old lady's sigh places her front paws on the first step, and laboriously jumps her hind legs up behind her to begin her ascent.
-----------------
One year ago: Catharsis
Two years ago: Four
Three years ago: A Night of Random Encounters
Four years ago: Cut My Hair

Saturday, September 16, 2017

All The Way Down

"Those look like pretty steep steps to me," the woman says, while the doge examines our stoop dubiously. The woman is wearing dark, Ray Orbison-style sunglasses and leaning heavily on a cane. 

"When you're going upstairs, it's a little easier, since you're in control," she goes on thoughtfully, "but going downstairs is scary!"

"I mean," she indicates her cane, "I can make it up from the subway okay, but can you imagine what would happen if I fell going down?"
----------------
One year ago: What Does It All Mean?
Two years ago: Dropping My Eaves
Four years ago: Deferred

Friday, September 15, 2017

Out of Work

Katie's been at work all day, and I went out tonight, so we haven't seen each other all day.

"I've decided I don't like being at home by myself," I say. "It makes me sad."

"Welcome to my world," Katie sings.
-------------------
Two years ago: Time Bully
Three years ago: Signs of Age
Four years ago: What Took You So Long?

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Dance Like Nobody You Know Is Watching

Our new friend at the office party comes back from the DJ booth. "He said, 'If I play a line dance, are you gonna do it?' and I went like this," sassy face.

Then, through the speakers, coming over the air like an air raid, blasts out the goddamn Cha-Cha Slide, and I am not a quitter, so I do my cha-cha, even though I occasionally have trouble telling my left from my right. 

What the hell, I'm never gonna see most of these people again, right?
------------------------
One year ago: I Got This
Three years ago: Teddy's "Rescue"
Four years ago: Putting It Kindly



Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Spot the Difference

We come away from the elementary school with our "I Voted" stickers slapped proudly on our chests, prepared to run the gauntlet of candidates and their surrogates up 7th Avenue, but since they saw us go in to vote, they mostly leave us alone.

Here, however, tired look on her face but still game and ready to engage, is one of the candidates both Katie and I voted for, holding a sign with her campaign slogan and her picture.

Except it's not her, it's her sister, and the actual candidate is standing over there, a few feet away, where she's talking with Katie, who wasn't fooled, while I try to smooth over my awkwardness.

"Oh, I see your hair's a little different," I say, not really making it better.
-----------------
One year ago: Yes It Is
Two years ago: Momento Mori
Three years ago: It Was Totally Different
Four years ago: Bookworm

Monday, September 11, 2017

A Question For The Ages

"So with The Get Down the question is, does a seriously inferior second season, or second part of a season, invalidate what came earlier?" I ask over my shoulder while I'm doing dishes.

"Well let me ask you: how do you feel about the ending of How I Met Your Mother?" Katie replies.

"I'm sorry," I say slowly, turning around to face her where she stands in the doorway to the kitchen with a smug smile on her face. "We don't say that name in this house."
-------------------
One year ago: The Rich Aren't Like You and Me
Two years ago: In Vino Veritas
Three years ago: Not a Good Fit
Four years ago: To Be Fair, They Were Kind of Hidden


Chicken

Some couples play board games, we have "toothpaste chicken": a high-stakes game of nerves where we squeeze the last remaining dabs of paste out of the tube until one of us caves and buys another.

But lo and behold, here, perched on the edge of the sink, all plump and pretty, is a brand new tube of toothpaste that I didn't buy.

"Remember that time we both bought toothpaste on the same day?" Katie says by way of explanation. "I was looking for a travel sized tube just now and I kept picking that one up and putting it aside," indicating the new tube, "not even seeing it as toothpaste."
----------------
One year ago: Burning Off Karma
Two years ago: A Discourse On Beauty
Three years ago: Slipped My Mind
Four years ago: Acting Like An Extrovert

Saturday, September 9, 2017

The Truth Hurts Sales

One of the vendors at the flea is selling typewriters, and a tween kid is tapping away while the guy selling is away from his booth.

A few minutes later, after the kid's mom has gently guided the kid away, the vendor comes over, clutching the paper from the typewriter like some oracle of doom.

"'Is there so much despair in my life because I expect it to be fair?'" the vendor reads from the page. "I feel like I should find the guy, tell him, 'This is yours, 'cause I don't want it,'" he continues.
------------
One year ago: We Got a Problem?
Two years ago: Call It the Blues, I Guess
Three years ago: They Ran Out of "I Voted" Stickers
Four years ago: Orpheus

Overstimulation

"Yo, you can't fuck with that Mountain Dew, man," the large, heavy-set black man in the gray t-shirt says.

"Nah, but sometimes I like to get like a couple Red Bull, and drink that?" says the latino guy in the black rimmed glasses.

His friend throws his head back, saying, "Man, Red Bull is even worse!"

"I love these two guys," I say to Katie, who nods emphatically without making eye contact.
--------------
One year ago: They Would Have Seen It Anyways
Two years ago: It's True
Three years ago: Blue Flavored
Four years ago: Cloudbusting

Friday, September 8, 2017

Robots

"You don't look married," the older woman on my block says to me in response to my "Does this t-shirt make me look married" shirt. I laugh indulgently, even though she never remembers me, or the fact that my dog doesn't like to be touched, or interacted with in any way, and she does both those things anyway.

But while she attempts in vain yet again to try and pet a dog that clearly doesn't want to be petted, one of the kids running the "I'm raising money for my basketball team" scam comes up with his clipboard and tried to engage us, and I fix him with one of my most aggressive smiles and say, "Oh, hey, how are you?"

"Oh, fine," he says, only momentarily startled out of his robotic recitation of the scam script before launching back into it, but by that time the woman has already escaped, and he has to pursue her down the street.
-------------------
One year ago: Why Are We Like This?
Two years ago: Blowdart
Four years ago: Holding On To Disappointment

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

On The Left Hand Side

It's obvious he screwed up his back by the way he gently walks over and sits down with a grimace. "Do you smoke?" I ask, thinking it might relax his spasming muscles.

"Well I just got a vape which is really nice," he says, his eyes lighting up. "But since I managed to do this," he indicates his back, "under the influence, I'm not sure it'll help."
---------------
One year ago: Feisty
Two years ago: He Doesn't Eat Much
Three years ago: To My Shame
Four years ago: Out of the Well

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

All The News That's Fit

The weather's the only news anyone believes anymore, and the news from the Atlantic is all bad: horrific, monstrous storms, rising tides, drowning towns.

I never bothered to learn how to wash dishes correctly - I run the water until it's hot, and then soap each dish individually while the water keeps running until the drain trap fills up with old food.

I think about houses filling up with dirty water while the sink fills up with dirty water over a choked up drain.

I wonder what I'll give a few years hence for a single sip of drinkable water when the rivers overflow their banks.
--------------------
One year ago: High and (kinda) Tight
Two years ago: The Girl Can't Help It
Three years ago: Sand in my Shoes
Four years ago: Something Like That


Monday, September 4, 2017

"Stay a while, you are so beautiful."

Sunlight carves the buildings out of the air and gives them sharp, hard edges so they look brand new. I stand by a tree at the intersection, staring up at the spire of a church, listening to the occasional car go by. The bark is rough and warm under my hand where I lean against the tree.

It's very peaceful here right now, but I know it hasn't always been that way, and I find myself saying a prayer, a wish, a hope, that it stays that way for just a little while longer.
---------------
One year ago: All Summer In A Day
Two years ago: It Was Quite Loud
Three years ago: There and Back
Four years ago: A Good Night For Stargazing



Bumping All The Hits

"Yeah, I don't know that song," Katie says after I sing the first verse of "Holding Back the Years" by Simply Red to her, to explain why I was laughing at a car driving outside blasting such a soft rock hit.

"Well, let me sing the entire rest of it to you, just in case," I say as she walks from the room.

Later, she laughs at a car driving by and I ask her to explain.

"Well, it was blasting something and then the GPS came on and said, 'In 300 feet, turn left.'"
-----------------
One year ago: Tomato Koan
Two years ago: I Missed It
Three years ago: Packs Come In All Sizes
Four years ago: Tired of Wasting Food

Sunday, September 3, 2017

A Child's Superpower

Someone has placed, in the dark soil at the base of this Brooklyn tree on a shady residential side-street, a miniature tableau: wire cages from the tops of champagne bottles twisted into chairs, a tiny table made of popsicle sticks and cardboard from a small box of cereal, some small toys as garden decorations.

I'm behind in my errands, so I don't stop to examine it closely, but a young girl and her father pause at her squeal to take a look. She excitedly begins to describe who would be sitting in the little chairs at the table, and what they might be eating and drinking, a whole guest of list of little folks sharing tea and crumpets in the very small world beneath the very large tree.

I try to remember what it must be like to be so young as to see something for the very first time, to see everything for the first time, and think how I might regain this superpower.
-------------------
One year ago: My "Tell"
Two years ago: Misunderstood
Three years ago: A Day's Work
Four year ago: That's How Blessings Work (Reciprocity)

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Long Showtime No See

I get on the train and sit next to the manspreading dudes in the tight t-shirts and jeans who, it turns out, are riding with the guys sitting on the other side of the train.

"But if Messi joins Chelsea, then we might stand a chance," the one next to me says, loud enough to make me flinch, but I get out my notebook and start writing anyway. Eventually I'm concentrating on what I'm doing enough to tune them out.

At the next stop, four kids get on, and one of them shouts, "Showtime, ladies and gentlemen, showtime," but I just sigh, keep my head down, and keep writing.
-------------
One year ago: Boing
Two years ago: Marry Well
Three years ago: Waving Not Drowning
Four years ago: Getting Summer in Just Under the Wire

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Eavesdropping

The guy next to us has been pretty obviously listening to our conversation for a while, but I've managed to ignore him until my friend Rick finally just turns and gives him a look.

Okay, I think, turning to our interloper with my biggest, warmest smile, let's see what's going on.

"Hi, I'm Scott," I say.

"I'm um, I'm Philip," he says, surprised.
------------------
One year ago: Lovely Old Things
Two years ago: Assertiveness Training
Three years ago: They Were Here First
Four years ago: Midnight Walk Home

Verisimilitude

poop

I put in my earplugs to drown out the TV while Katie watches the Late Show. The screen is blank, and I'm thinking about the conversation with Katie's dad over dinner, a conversation about politics, and voting your interests, and cynicism.

Katie reaches over, gives me a look, and then very deliberately types "poop," which, out of respect for verisimilitude, I have left.
-------------------
One year ago: No Hurry
Two years ago: What Year Is It?
Three years ago: The Usual Epiphany

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Patience

"Come on, man!" Katie says as I peer into the broiler at the shepherd's pie I've made. "You have to leave it in there for longer."

"I worry about it burning, though," I say, shutting the broiler door and we settle on the kitchen floor in front of the oven, and Katie pulls out her phone.

"Siri, set a timer for three minutes," she says.
-------------
One year ago: Sold Her Out
Two years ago: Neither, But It's Sweet of You to Think So
Three years ago: Travel Imprinting

Monday, August 28, 2017

Consider the Weeds

The doge noses through the miniature forest of tall, red plants that have sprung up this summer in the small bays of dirt for the trees interrupting the sidewalk along 7th Avenue. Thick red stalks extend four, five feet high, covered in greenish-red leaves and topped with deep crimson conical flowers heavy with pale pollen and swaying in the breeze.

"Oh, those are weeds," one woman says confidentially to the other as they pass us. "Only weeds thrive like that in New York City."
----------
One year ago: Common Sense
Two years ago: I Have a Tell
Three years ago: My Invisible Days
Four years ago: Friendly

People Pay Attention

I step up to the cashier at the little convenience store with the only ripe avocado in North America, an onion, and hamburger buns.

"Oooooh," she says, looking over my items. "Buying something other than hardboiled eggs?"

Sure, this is my usual purchase at this place, as I buy them for breakfast on my way to work, but I'm so flummoxed that someone would recognize me and notice my habits that for a moment I'm at a loss for words, while Katie laughs at my astonished expression, saying, "She's sure got you pegged!"
----------------
Two years ago: No Big Deal
Three years ago: Less Weird Than It Sounds
Four years ago: Innumeracy


Saturday, August 26, 2017

Engaged

The doge sniffs the foot of the woman who's stopped to look at her, showing surprising and uncharacteristic interest in another mammal besides the cat or Katie and me.

"She must smell my cats," the woman says, which gets me started talking about how old the dog is, how blind she is, how she still chases the cat, her dizziness, and how her climbing upstairs after the walk will be the most exercise she gets all day.

Later, relating the story to Katie, I tell her, "I think people expect me to be the typical New Yorker and not engage, but I'm always like this," I widen my eyes like I'm really paying attention.

"I wonder if it freaks them out," I add thoughtfully.
---------------
One year ago: Superpowers
Three years ago: Deja Vu Times Two
Four years ago: Are You Sure?

Help Anyways

"Since I'm looking at stuff all over your phone, I should introduce myself," Katie says to the older gentleman who interrupted our conversation to ask for help sending a text message.

After the introductions, she starts walking him through how to send it as an email, since it's way too long to send as a text. She explains it step by step, how to attach pictures, how to copy the text, hands him back the phone, and then, while he's asking follow up questions, pulls out her own phone, opens the "Notes" app, and thumbs in a message she shows to me under the table.

"He's got emails from Breitbart and Fox News Updates on his phone!" it reads.
----------
One year ago: Radiation Vibe
Two years ago: Slingshot
Three years ago: Beggars of Park Slope
Four years ago: Eleanor Rigby Talks to Machines

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Key Food Thunderdome

I slip into line for the self-checkout at the grocery store behind the single woman waiting there. Another woman comes up on my left, fine, good, but then yet another woman, this one pushing a baby carriage with the exhausted obliviousness of the tired, working mother, comes up on my right and stands there, staring at her phone.

As the woman in front of me goes to the next open machine, I can feel my chest tightening at the thought of the conflict to come: the maneuvering, the faux polite attempts to ascertain who got there first, the passive-aggressive "After you," "No, after YOU"s.

A machine opens up and I dart over to it and begin hurriedly scanning my food as a guy walks up to the about-to-unfold melee and says, "So, uh, which one of you is the back of the line?"
-------------------
One year ago: The Nightmare of Eternal Return
Two years ago: That's What I Meant
Three years ago: New Carpet Meta
Four years ago: That First Simile Seems a Little Strong to Me, Too, But I Just Sorta Went With It

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

That's Probably Enough To Start With

"Okay so if I die and turn into a ghost, I'll try to contact you," I tell my roommate John.

"By knocking things over?"

"No, do you know morse code?"

"I know SOS," he says, knocking it out on the wall.
-----------------------------
One year ago: Still Friends
Two years ago: Unexpected
Three years ago: Relearning Object Permanence
Four years ago: The Cycle of Anger

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

My Television Friends

Katie comes home exhausted from work well after seven in the evening and makes a beeline for the bed where she lies down with a tired smile.

"You did such a good job," she says to me when I describe all the tasks I did around the house for the home business, putting together shelves and writing emails, but clearly she's the one putting in the hard work.

"I understand why you leave the TV on while you're working," I say, crawling onto the bed next to her. "Watching 'Parks and Rec' it's like having your best friends around for entertainment."
---------------
One year ago: Good to See You Again
Two year ago: Impatience
Four years ago: Or Were They Dropped ON PURPOSE?

Monday, August 21, 2017

The Difference Between Us

I awaken from dreams of a flood, where Katie and were swept away in a raging torrent, only to find ourselves, after a few misadventures, floating gently down a stream on a perfect sunny afternoon, and climbing out onto the banks somewhere in Queens.

(This is pretty normal for my dreams, and probably says something about my basically optimistic nature: a disaster turns into something fairly benign, and everything ends up for the best.)

I open my eyes next to Katie, who's already beginning to stir, and tell her everything I remember about my dream, since she was in it.

"Were there eels?" she asks sleepily.
-------------------------
One year ago: Eating Feelings
Two years ago: And Not Fictional
Three years ago: The Way "Cranky" Works
Four years ago: The Fabric of Our Lives

The Naked Eye

For no reason other than laziness, I've been wearing my glasses all day today.

I carry the dog downstairs and hook up her collar and, just for a moment, take off my glasses.

The streetlights, the stoplights, the still-lit signs above the sleeping shops and cafes, the lights of the passing cars, all blossom into diffuse jewels of myopia.

Even though I can't see the details. the world still seems closer, more present, more real, than when I go back behind the wall of my glasses, back to the world of the visible.
------------------
One year ago: The One-Year-Old's Birthday Party
Two years ago: How You Treat the People Who Serve You
Three years ago: Like Usual
Four years ago: I Swear They're Following Me

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Crime Scene

They show up like brown, cubist versions of the chalk outline on the sidewalk, a spot where a person fell to earth. It's daytime, so no one's sleeping on them, but they're becoming more ubiquitous in our neighborhood - boxes flattened out and lined up, maybe a blanket balled up at one end for a pillow, always fast food containers.

The dog walks up to one to sniff them, but she won't step directly on them, even when I tug gently on her leash. It's like she knows that something happened here, and she's loathe to disturb the scene.
-----------------
One year ago: Subjective
Two years ago: The Problem of Education
Three years ago: Existential
Four years ago: Further Encounters with the "Showtime!" Kids



Friday, August 18, 2017

I Tried

"Is the delivery guy still here?" Katie says, invoice in hand, worried look on her face. "I don't have everything."

I run down stairs and around the corner to where he's parked, but I can only catch a glimpse of his tail lights at the corner a block away, so I keep running, hoping to catch up.

By the time I get there, though, he's long gone, and as I walk the long block back home through the thick, wet air, a giant butterfly flaps slowly across my path, up into the trees, and out of sight.
---------------
One year ago: Dad Humor
Two years ago: Penmanship
Three years ago: 4 People/4 Seasons
Four years ago: Marriage is a Balancing Act

Active Seniors

My dad's face comes up on the screen, sweaty and pink, a brick wall behind him. "Hey there, son!" he says heartily.

"Why do I always catch you out doing something when I call?" I say, laughing.

"I'm playing pickleball!" he says happily, holding up a black-gloved hand. 
---------------------
One year ago: Theophobia
Two years ago: Gaming
Three years ago: Vanity

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Be Nicer

We're trying to find a place to put the papers that Katie is taking into work with her tomorrow so she doesn't forget them, because mornings are hard.

"Yeah, you get all worked up, running around....," I say, to which I receive a raised eyebrow.

"Be nice," she says.

"I'm not being mean," I say, "I'm describing."
-----------------
One year ago: Distracted
Two years ago: THAT Kind of Marriage
Three years ago: sketch 8/16

Because We Ate Them

"Think we can split the bottle of sake?" I ask Katie, who shrugs and nods. "We'll get the sake, and one order of avocado buns," I tell the waitress.

A few minutes later comes the small bottle of cloudy, slightly sweet nigori sake, along with two pillowy buns hugging avocado slices drizzled in a thick teriyaki sauce and covered in sweet Japanese mayo, and we raise our glasses with our usual toast ("To the popular vote") and dig in.

A few minutes later, a different waitress comes up and apologetically informs us that, unfortunately they are entirely out of avocado buns this evening, even as I'm raising the remaining half of one to my mouth.
---------------------
One year ago: Overenthusiastic
Two years ago: They're Too Short
Three years ago: Quiet Kids
Four years ago: Houseguests

Monday, August 14, 2017

The Streets Aren't Safe

I'm standing on 7th Avenue, leaning on a construction awning, waiting for the post office to open. Some people have joined me, forming an orderly queue, like we do in NYC.

A squirrel runs up, stares me right in the face, and stands on his hind legs, like he's squaring up, and in my shock, I step back quickly, which seems to scare him enough that he runs off.

"Thought he was gonna mug me," I say to the guy laughing behind me.
-------------------
One year ago: Misery Aficionado
Three years ago: Hoo Boy
Four years ago: God Lives in the Desert, So the Rest of Us Can Live Here
Nine years ago: For those still paying attention

Sunday, August 13, 2017

The Times, A'Changin'

"Whoa," I say quietly to Katie as we hit the corner by the grocery store. "check out the refugee from The MC5."

"I don't know what that means," Katie says, but there he is standing on the corner, talking on his cell, but otherwise straight out of the 1960's: bell-bottomed pants and Cuban heels, slim suit jacket with no shirt, a red, white, and blue cravat, and some of the biggest hair I've ever seen on a white man in the flesh.

He goes into the grocery store, too, but we quickly lose sight of him in the aisles, until I see him leaving, still chatting on his phone, with a case of LaCroix sparkling water under his arm.

When I mention this to Katie, specifically his choice in cans of overpriced, flavored bubbly water, she says, "Of course he did."
--------------------------
One year ago: You Just Don't Understand!
Two years ago: I'm a Liar
Four years ago: Sometimes You Gotta Eat Crow First

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Violence In Our Hearts

This part of Williamsburg, as it shades into Greenpoint, reminds me of the seedier parts of Tucson I used to frequent - single-story cinder block garages and warehouses covered in graffiti, weeds cracking the sidewalks, cyclone fences standing watch over empty, overgrown lots where wild green things eke out a meager existence in the space between stones. An overcast sky paints the whole scene a yellowish gray, while hundreds of miles away, white supremacists beat on their shields and throw Nazi salutes to the cameras like desperate divas throwing kisses to horrified paparazzi.

"I think there's a piece of me," I say to my friend as we stroll back to his workspace after lunch, "that is just fascinated by the violence, that glories in it."

"I mean, what you're talking about," he replies, as we walk slower and slower, "is really the human condition, right?"
---------------------
One year ago: Getting Better
Two years ago: A Brief Discourse On Style
Three years ago: Sic Semper Bullies
Four years ago: Brain Fart

Friday, August 11, 2017

We Wondered How They Stayed Open

"At lunchtime, they come eat here from the school," our server at the Mexican restaurant says.

"What year are these kids?" asks Katie.

"Fourth, fifth graders, and they just come in here and order food, but they're very well behaved."

"Man, I thought they were barely domesticated at that age," I say, shaking my head.
-------------------
One year ago: Fine Distinctions
Three years ago: Dead Food
Four years ago: Naptime!

Growing Boys Need Their Rest

His mom wakes up the little boy sitting next to me before she gets off the train, holding his chin in one hand as she instructs him. "Your brother's right there," she says, pointing a few seats down to where another child, only barely older than this one, sits, "and you need to hold his hand on the way home, okay?"

He nods drowsy assent, she kisses him and gets off the train, and almost immediately he falls back asleep, if possible even more deeply than before. His face squishes against my shoulder, shoving his glasses askew, and he begins to snore delicately, but he looks so exhausted that I just let him sleep.
--------------
One year ago: Missionary Man
Two years ago: You Should Be More Specific
Three years ago: The Kids Are Alright (With Adult Supervision)
Four years ago: Done, Too Late

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Almost For Me

The beer aisle at my local supermarket is perfect for someone as susceptible to advertising as me - bright colors, intricately designed labels, suggestive names like "Nooner" or "Golden Monkey" or "Delrium Tremens."

(Note for my non-New Yorker readers: beer in New York City is sold in grocery stores, but wine and liquor are sold in separate stores - local laws and customs may apply.)

The prices are right, too, for all of these interesting styles of drink in vast array, with nuanced differences between each (porter, lager, IPA, saison, Belgian, witte, barleywine, etc. etc., etc.), promising a lifetime of classifying and learning about regions and brewing minutiae. 

Unfortunately, I don't really care for beer all that much. 
----------------
One year ago: Bigger Problems
Three years ago: Child Abuse

Speak Kindly

"What I need you to do," says the voice drifting up through the window from the street, "is shut the fuck up."

"Oh no!" says Katie.

But she didn't hear the voice, and was upset because she'd forgotten to put the packing slip in the box she's sending out tomorrow.

"I think he's talking to his girlfriend, though," I say sadly, leaning out the window and peering down the street.
-----------------
One year ago: Ask First
Two years ago: Morning Snapshots
Three years ago: Made You Look
Four years ago: It Wasn't Even 10 AM

Monday, August 7, 2017

Two Guys

"A little help
Helps A LOT" reads the sign. He's sitting in a dirty t-shirt and muddy jeans, slumped at the bottom of the staircase on a stolen milk crate, face shrouded under lank, humid black curls, eyes at half-mast and despairing.

Down on the platform, by the downtown train, his doppelgänger, to the point where I have to do a double take, but this time everything went right: Adidas sneakers; deep red, clean pants with a fashionable taper, tastefully cuffed to reveal bare ankles; crisp button down shirt. The same curls, the same face beneath them, but everything softer, cleaner, brighter, his entire life a place of safety and rest, and he likely doesn't even know it as he steps on the train that whisks him even further away from the life he might have lived.
---------------
One year ago: A Reminder
Two years ago: About Time
Three years ago: Office Party
Four years ago: Which is Why I Moved Away From Tucson


Grapefruit Juice

Sometimes it's just whatever I remember best: standing in front of the patrician gray stone church on the corner, both of us burdened with bags full of groceries for dinner.

Katie is trying to be patient with me, so she asks, "Well, do you want grapefruit juice for drinks tonight?"

I'm starting to get hungry, so I don't really know, and I say so.

"Babysit these bags, okay?" she says, handing them to me, grabbing my card, and striding back to the store for the one thing we forgot.
-----------------
One year ago: An Olympic Household
Two years ago: Sawbones Saves the Day
Three years ago: Mind=Blown (Star Wars Edition)
Four years ago: I'm Only Kinda Lazy

Sunday, August 6, 2017

I Should Just Be Glad I've Got Hair

The woman at the salon washing my hair thinks she's giving me the spa treatment. She's working the sides, scrubbing behind the ears, doing this one little technique where she starts at the hairline and works all the way back to my neck with a sort of squishing motion. 

But the fact is she does it too hard, and she's not mindful enough of the water, so now I've got water in my ears, but I do sort of like being touched, in general, so I give her a pass.

A client walks up to the hair-washer while she's drying my hair and hands her a five-spot, and I wonder if I'm just too picky to really enjoy things properly.
-----------
One year ago: Afterparty
Two years ago: How You Get Paid
Three years ago: After the Gold Flush

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Dogs Deserve It More

Ziggy the Labradoodle is on a leash, as they just rescued him pretty recently, and he nuzzles his big ol' russet head right up into everybody's crotches with the self-assurance of an animal that knows its love will be absolutely returned, while Baxter (also a Labradoodle) is more independent, and he's chosen to use his off-leash time to bury his enormous black head in the florist's marigolds.

"So you rescued a senior dog?" Ziggy and Baxter's owner says happily, gesturing to us. "You see, there are good people in the world," he tells his teenage daughter, who's sitting on the sidewalk with her arms around Ziggy.

"I love these dogs more that anybody in the whole world," she explains.
--------------------
One year ago: Weaponized Doge
Two years ago: Pure Bred Jerk
Three years ago: Kickass Dreams in a Restless Night
Four years ago: A Lovely Day (Even for Teddy Bears)

Friday, August 4, 2017

Keep Calm

The walk to the post office in the hot, sticky afternoon sun is not doing wonders for my calm. Also, I haven't showered yet, so I'm a little self-conscious, like, is it possible that I am the source of that funk that I keep catching a whiff of?

So when the woman at the other window sends me back into line yet again, I engage in some positive self-talk: I am here to be kind, to make this world better, and these people are just doing their jobs, however poorly, and I am going to be fucking pleasant, dammit.

So I smile at (quick glance to the name tag) Kim while she finishes filling out a form, and when she finally acknowledges my presence, I walk up to her window, slide the delivery tag she asked me to print out under the three inches of bulletproof glass, and, still smiling, say, "Hey, thanks for your help with all this."
------------------
One year ago: Washed Clean
Two years ago: She Reminded Me of Her Name Soon After
Three years ago: Blast From the Past
Four years ago: My Problems With Authority Stem From My Problems With Stupidity

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Crisis Averted

I've done self-checkout before, I know what's up.

But after quickly scanning all my items and placing them in the bagging area to await transfer into my eco-friendly bag, I snap my card into the reader, pop the correct buttons for "debit," and punch in my PIN... and accidentally hit "cancel."

Which shuts the whole thing down, and now here comes the woman who monitors the self-checkout machines to help the idiots who have trouble figuring out things like scanners and card readers, coming over to me like I'm some kind of help-needing moron.

I curse quietly and get the card back into the reader before she gets to me, and, seeing that I've got the situation under control, she goes back to her bored post, staring off into space at the foot of the aisle.
--------------
One year ago: How to Have a Bad Night
Two years ago: Consider the Trees
Three years ago: And So On
Four years ago: See You Around. Or Not. Probably Not.


Save The Comics

The woman in the front of the house at the comedy show, the one drinking High Life who talks back to all the comics, is trying to get my attention. I resolutely keep my eye on the stage though, until finally she stands up in the middle of this guy's set ("And what about airline food - you hate it right?") and gets right in my line of sight.

"Can you watch my bag?" she says, slurring her words. I give her the silent thumbs up and pretend like I'm not associated with her as she staggers off to the restroom while the guy on stage tries to carry on like nothing's happening.
-------------
One year ago: Root and Bone
Two years ago: Night Blind

Monday, July 31, 2017

(Silly) Signs and Portents

I walk to the park as an exercise in observation, a la William Burroughs: I'm to look for signs, portents, synchronicities, the ways the world is attempting to communicate with me all the time that I never notice.

Alas, despite a beautiful day, and a lovely blue sky, the world remains stubbornly mute, with at most a helicopter going over the neighborhood on the way to the park and then, maybe, the same helicopter a few minutes later going the opposite direction over the park while I sit beneath a tree and watch the clouds.

Resigned to my decidedly non-portentous life, I pull out my notebook and write a lightly poetic meditation on directions and looking for meaning in the world, afterwards relaxing in the shade and eavesdropping on nearby conversations until I push to my feet to amble through the sunshine out of the park.

On a trail out of the park, I see, coming into the park, a guy dressed in the exact same outfit I'm wearing (a blue t-shirt with little white palm trees on it, and olive green shorts), and he looks at me, looking at him, smiles hugely and says, "Strange, isn't it?"
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One year ago: Phrasing
Two years ago: Flatbush Creek
Three years ago: It Works if You Work It
Four years ago: Brooklyn Midsummer
Eight years ago: too hot, too humid, too crowded

Avoidance Brownies

Our friends with kids go hard, but like, before 9:00 AM, so we get back from breakfast hanging out with them before noon. The streets of Park Slope are still empty, the sun is shining, a warm breeze gently wafts through the window, and an entire day stretches out before us.

Katie has already settled in to work on her business, and I know that I have writing to do - there's a story I could be working on, or at least a journal entry, and there's plenty of blog posts, and the novel still lingers like a stink in the air.

I stand in the kitchen for a minute, contemplating, and then pull out cocoa, flour, sugar, butter, and a mixing bowl, and start a batch of brownies.
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Two years ago: Debaser
Three years ago: A Face for Radio
Four years ago: It's Peach Season

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Cat Porn

I peek my head back in the bathroom as Katie is finishing up her shower. "When I came back in the room, the cat was sitting up in front of my open laptop, looking very guilty," I say.

"Like she downloaded porn and gave us a virus," Katie replies. "Cat porn, by the way, is just food and people falling down elevator shafts."
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Two years ago: There's a Story, There
Three years ago: More Jeff Gillooly'd
Four years ago: Instead of Sports

Post-surgery

I'm sitting in a thin hospital gown, Katie in the chair next to me, getting ready to leave the hospital after surgery.

As the nurse prepares to take the IV out of my hand, Katie looks over. "Yeah, I talked to the doctor, and you're not supposed to do any headstands or pushups while you recover."

"When you asked earlier, she thought you meant, could you do yoga that normal people do," she adds.
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One year ago: Meditation
Four years ago: Too Late Now

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Hare, Tortoise

The second time up the hill is killing me, but damn if I'm not going to pass as many people as possible on my way up. The competitive part of my psyche, the one that I hardly ever indulge in public, cackles with delight (internally) with each person that I pass, glorying in the little frisson of conquest, hoping that each person feels that slight disheartening sensation of defeat as I beat them to the top.

Now, at the top of the hill, my lungs are fire, and my legs molten jelly, but I suck wind with satisfaction as I coast into the downward side.

And here, on my left, comes one of the people I passed on my way up, trucking past me, leaving me in the dust without seeming to even break a sweat.
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One year ago: Behind the Sky
Two years ago: She's Right
Three years ago: A Future in Sales
Eight years ago: at best

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

It Was Delicious

Normally, I don't mess around with caffeine, as it tends to interfere with the calm demeanor I've cultivated over the years, but the prospect of "Russian Evening Tea" at the famed Russian Tea Room is too good to pass up ("Low in caffeine, this tea is ideal for enjoying in the evening or late afternoon").

It comes to the table with a tray containing a small bowl of sugar cubes, some packets of artificial sweetener, a small pot of cherry jam, and, on the side, a small plate of cookies.

When I suggest that the jam might be used for sweetening the tea, Katie looks at me aghast, saying, "You better use that on your cookies."

"I think I'll ask someone," I say, looking around for our server.
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One year ago: And My Bald Head
Two years ago: Like Father, Like Son
Three years ago: Thanks
Eight years ago: Weird Ways We're Connected

On Brand

The strangers in our house sent the doge into seemingly endless paroxysms of barking, so we've decided that the best way to calm her down is ice cream.

Since we want ice cream too, this works out pretty well.

But when we bring her out her tiny little cup of vanilla ice cream, she's too wound up to even get into it properly, and after a couple distracted licks, she goes back to panting and looking worriedly over her shoulder, on the lookout for whatever doom she seems to believe is on its way to catch her unawares.

Katie sits on the sidewalk and tries to tempt the dizzy doge with a spoonful of creamy white goodness, but the dog can't even focus, and as I watch my wife try to feed our shiba-inu Haagen-Dazs, I think, "This might be one of the most Park Slope things I've ever seen."
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One year ago: Weather or Not
Two years ago: Coming Home
Three years ago: Real/Phony

Monday, July 24, 2017

Perfect Rain

Katie stands over me looking out the window as I lay on my yoga mat. Outside, the trees whip back and forth in the wind, and rain falls thick and heavy.

"The rain is perfect," she says, opening the window, and the noise of the rain increases, while a cool breeze flows through the room, sweet with the smell of green and wet asphalt and sidewalks.

"I feel like we've had this conversation before," I reply, and I wiggle my toes happily.
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One year ago: In the Cave
Two years ago: In Bruges
Three years ago: Learning to Live
Four years ago: My People Are From Southern Illinois, But Good Point