Tuesday, January 31, 2017


A little girl stares intently at the moving laser lights projected on the sidewalk in front of the bar by the subway station. She watches, perfectly still, as they join and separate in a simple pattern.

They change colors from red to green and back again, until, with a tiny leap, she lands on top of a cluster of them just as they burst into separate points.

A short, thin man with a scraggly beard watches her with a bored expression as he smokes in front of the bar, and even when she jumps with all the joy and energy of a leaping gazelle, he stands there, cigarette dangling from his hand, no expression.
One year ago today: Taste the Rainbow
Three years ago today: The Gift
Nine years ago today: 1-31-08 Wealth. I don't has it.

Monday, January 30, 2017

A Discussion on Lane Bryant

"You got the beauty standards in your face all the time, and you have to realize that they're... not right," one woman says to the other in the breakroom while I fill up my water bottle.

"Well you got that hourglass figure all the men love," the other says admiringly.

"Yeah, I mean, it's plab, and plab," she replies, hands on ample chest and hips.

I screw the top back on my bottle and quietly sidle out of the room.
One year ago today: LA Cops
Two years ago today: Enabler
Three years ago today: Expressing Attitude
Nine years ago today: 1-30-08 "It just keeps getting worse!"

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Standing O

The dog has decided that our friend Jeff who is staying with us is a mortal threat to her life, and the only thing that will keep her safe is to bark at random intervals.

After one of her wordless, hectoring tirades threatens to end my sanity, I finally lose patience and run into the room, clapping like mad. This seems to disturb her enough that she forgets what she's doing and stops barking.

When I come out Katie looks up and mildly says, "It sounded like you were applauding her barks."
One year ago today: (Not) Going My Way
Two years ago today: It's a Living
Three years ago today: Stars Don't Care
Four years ago today: 1-29-08 Trying too hard


Bitter cold day. A few brilliant flurries fall, their path splitting the stony gray sky like veins of dirty quartz.

But the molecular definition of cold, where movement is curtailed as the temperature drops, must have missed the residents of Brooklyn, because everyone seems to be in their cars, trying to get somewhere - anywhere - as fast as possible, and traffic is backed up from the arch at Grand Army Plaza all the way back to 8th Avenue.

People swerve in front of one another, honking and cursing, lines of cars surge forward and halt, shuddering, at maddening red stoplights, and as the day gets colder and grayer, tempers grow hotter, and the brakelights burn like coals in the following drivers' eyes.
One year ago today: Admit It
Two years ago today: How to Walk
Three years ago today: Whole. Hearted.
Nine years ago today: 1-28-08 Scotty in Furs (or Pleather)

Friday, January 27, 2017

Strangers in the Crowd

He's tall and not-bad looking, well dressed, in a long overcoat, sharp in a shirt and tie, grooving away to music no one else can hear. She's pretty, wearing oversized glasses perched on the end of her nose and an army surplus jacket, tights and lace-up, clunky boots, her hair up in a ponytail.

They notice each other, from across the length of the subway car. She looks at him like she knows exactly what's playing in his headphones, and smiles before she looks away.
One year ago today: Plans and a Carpet Spoiled
Two years ago today: The Road is Actually "Polhemus" But the Rest is True
Three years ago today: The Government Sure Do Take a Bite, Don't She?
Nine years ago today: 1-27-08 Unresolved

Thursday, January 26, 2017

The Importance of Being Earnest

Good looking kid: long dark hair, pale skin, the long face and high cheekbones of a Greco painting beneath a blue baseball cap with an obscure, vaguely heraldic logo, comes up towards the door of the subway, and stops.

"I don't know about you guys, but I just want to say I'm getting off at the next stop," he says, looking around.

"Are you getting off?" he asks the woman standing in front of him, and she shakes her head, so he moves around her and stands by the door.

I smile to myself at his awkward earnestness, but as he's looking around he catches me, and I try to disguise it by looking at the ground, as if I'm smiling at something else.
One year ago today: Smiling and Waving
Two years ago today: Better Unsaid
Three years ago today: No Romping For You, Buddy
Nine years ago today: 1-26-08 Old Testament R&B

Wednesday, January 25, 2017


As soon as the door clicks to, I realize that the keys I'm carrying are my work keys, not my house keys. I can feel them, small and useless in my pocket, mocking me. 

I walk downstairs and just stand for a minute in front of my neighbor's door, listening, but I don't hear anything. They have a spare set of keys in there, and I'm almost dead certain they're not home, but I rap on the metal door with my knuckles anyway, and stand there, like a lump, ears straining in the quiet of the building, until, from what seems like an impossible distance away, upstairs, the dog barks.
One year ago today: You Just Made it Mad!
Two years ago today: Class Concerns
Nine years ago today: 1-25-08 Gloves

Tuesday, January 24, 2017


"Oh, come on," Katie says, uncovering the tights she left on the bed. Dead in the middle, the cat has deposited a long, disgusting, yellowish hairball.

Seeing her handiwork discovered, the cat stands up nonchalantly, and stretches her front legs, flexing her paws wide to display her long white claws.

"She does it on purpose, you know," Katie says, as I go get the paper towels, and the cat settles in on the edge of the bed, her eyes narrow, green slits.
One year ago today: In the Night Kitchen
Two years ago today: Bird Poem
Three years ago today: Remembering My Future
Nine years ago today: 1-24-08 Yesterday, the Day Job

Monday, January 23, 2017

"I'm Here To Rescue You"

"Is that a pure bred shiba-inu?" the woman asks as I stand on the top step, leash dangling from my hand, and the doge stands dripping in the deluge deciding whether or not she wants to go inside.

"Yep," I say, giving the leash a desultory tug. The dog ignores me and twists her head upwards, as if she's trying to figure out who's pouring water on her.

"I just thought they were taller," the woman says, and the dog looks wistfully at the dry vestibule of our apartment, but doesn't come inside.
One year ago today: Pocket Picked
Two years ago today: Bird Poem
Three years ago today: A Crowded Subway is No Excuse
Nine years ago today: 1-23-08 L'esprit de l'escalier and the power of music.


"Excuse me," the blonde lady with the high forehead and pinched expression says with a fake smile, "but this is a quiet car."

Neither of us like being scolded, but we do tend to get kind of loud, so Katie and I apologize and spend the next few train stops communicating in whispers and hand signals.

A little later, though, I see the same scold perking up in her seat, with her headphones in, no less, getting ready to go after another couple speaking so quietly that I can barely hear them, let alone make out what they're saying through headphones.

When I point this out to Katie, she says, "I knew there was something wrong with her when she got on the train, I just didn't know what."
One year ago today: The Kindness of Strangers
Two years ago today: Different Streams
Three years ago today: Okay, But It's More Fun Down Here
Nine years ago today: 1-22-08 Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, start all over again

Sunday, January 22, 2017

For A Change

"With people getting to the point where they don't just disagree with each other's political candidates, they actually hate each other, do you think there's a way to bridge the gap?" The reporter asks Katie as we sit in the Metro station, waiting to take the train to the protest march. The high-vaulted concrete ceilings echo with the cheers and chatter of our fellow dissidents.

I want to jump in and explain how I don't feel the need to bridge the gap with people who don't consider my safety or health, or the safety and health of my friends and loved ones, to be a priority, but then I stop myself. This is a women's march, after all, so instead I just shut up and listen, because it's not all about me.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Just Like My Father

"Brains," she says, using her most serious pet name for me, in her most serious playful tone. "Listen to me, you're getting all far away, like you do whenever we travel."

I can feel my anxiety levels rising: we're going to be in an unfamiliar city, at a protest, and I don't know how we're getting where we need to go, or what the area is like. 

"I just want to take care of you!" I plead.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

One Last Time

An old white man with a bad spray tan and a funny haircut pops up on my computer screen again, bloviating, telling me how great America is going to be as he systematically dismantles and discounts everything I thought made it great in the first place, and rather than the usual surge of anger, I find myself overcome with sadness.

"You know why it makes you sad?" my co-worker says when I try to explain it to her. "You're a feeling human being."

I start to tear up a little as I reply, "I just want to say it one last time before he goes: my president is black."
One year ago today: A Momentary Truce
Three years ago today: And We Probably Won't Do Much On Saturday Two
Nine years ago today: 1-19-08 The sweetest bitters


"My son, he's sixteen, and my daughter, um," the woman thinks for a moment and wipes the back of her hand across her nose again, "she's eighteen, and neither of them went out and got their licenses right away, they just didn't, you know, feel compelled, like, 'Oh, I'm sixteen, I have to go get my license.'" She seems nice, but she's been talking like this, sort of nonstop, for the last five minutes.

Just then the train pulls up, and I imagine, with growing trepidation, having to spend the entire ride into Manhattan listening to this woman rattle on, when Katie, with a tilt of her head and an almost imperceptible widening of the eyes, says, "Scott, we have to be at the front of the train for our stop."

I feel a momentary guilt, and then relief, as I start running to the front with a backwards, "Sorry, gotta go!"
One year ago today: Dread Imaginings
Two years ago today: Thanks
Three years ago today: Back and Forth
Nine years ago today: 1-18-08 that which does not kill me or my city

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Bizarre Nostalgia

I bring the dog outside into the misty night, carrying with me a ball of tension  about the size of a baseball, right under my solar plexus. My anxiety has been acting up lately, though there's objectively not as much to worry about (at least personally) as there was last year.

I remember when I was on chemo, I might have been sad, or exhausted, or worried, or upset, or contemplating what turned out to be my not so eminent demise, but I was definitely not anxious, and I wonder what the hell changed.

Every few steps, the dog looks over her shoulder with a desperate expression, peering into the darkness as if she's being followed, and I'm curious what she's fretting about, too.
One year ago today: Hot and Cold
Two years ago today: Thanks
Three years ago today: Back and Forth
Nine years ago today: 1-17-08 Who's laughing now?

Monday, January 16, 2017

Who Carries a Hand Mirror?

Mario, who works in the store on the first floor of my building, is walking down Seventh Avenue carrying a large white plastic hand mirror. He stops, faces the street, and with a look of concentration, begins to manipulate the mirror until a bright patch of light appears on the building across the street from him.

He slides the reflection down the building until it's shining in the window of the newsstand, and he keeps it there, laughing to himself, until I ask him what he's up to.

"I'm just joking with the guy in the newsstand," he says, still laughing, and he does that until a UPS truck intervenes between him and his victim, and he walks the rest of the block to work, still giggling at his own cleverness.
One year ago today: Deep-seated Guilt
Three years ago today: Irish Farewell
Nine years ago today: 1-16-08 No Rest for the Wicked?

Quiet, Please

A bus drives by, going the same way I'm walking up Seventh Avenue, and then a car, then another, engines growling, wheels hissing on the wet asphalt. A couple walks past me in the opposite direction, chatting quietly, then somebody yells something unintelligible on the other side of the street, and then there's a moment of quiet, and the whine of silence in my ears grows deafening.

I imagine the city at night the way it was 150 years ago: a few empty streets, the hushed houses, the sound of wind through the trees. And above it all, a soundless sky, a yellow moon rising slowly in the darkness, and us down here below, very small, listening.
One year ago today: Things Between Us
Two years ago today: Hashtag Yes All Wineglasses
Three years ago today: She'll Be Glad to Know
Nine years ago today: 1-15-08 The Sutra of Lowered Expectations

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Nothing's Wrong

We came into the grocery store together, but somewhere between the shelves overflowing with dusky potatoes and the papery sheen of onions, and the cool, refrigerated green vegetables stacked neatly under fluorescent lights, I turn around to find that Katie's gone.

Rationally, I know she just took a detour, probably to grab her coffee before she forgets, but when I look down the coffee aisle, past the evaporated milk and the boxes of tea, she's nowhere to be found.

A mild panic rises in my chest: what if she's gone, and I never see her again?

I find myself mourning a little, wishing I said something, told her I loved her, before I assumed she was following me into the produce, but when I turn down the frozen foods aisle she's walking towards me, carrying a bag of coffee, smiling as if nothing's wrong.
One year ago today: Let it Go
Two years ago today: Healing
Three years ago today: Lessons Learned
Six years ago today: 1/14/10 Things we say in the dark
Nine years ago today: 1-14-08 Tunnel vision, and, I got an award

Friday, January 13, 2017

I've Been Wanting to be Nice to Someone All Morning

Bodies pressed together on the platform to go up the stairs, the mob is particularly, and pleasantly, fragrant this morning. The bracing odor of soap, a gentle caress of gardenia from someone's lotion, a bass note of cloves from a man's aftershave.

A short, roundish woman in a pill-box hat and a bright blue quilted jacket bumps into me and looks up quickly with the half-fearful, half-defiant look New Yorkers get when they don't know if you're going to be cool or not. With a small, relaxed gesture, I motion her to go ahead, and an expression of momentary, grateful surprise passes across her face and vanishes as quickly as it arrives.
One year ago today: Firewall
Two years ago today: Inspired
Three years ago today: The Shameful Science
Nine years ago today: 1-13-08 Flea Market

Thursday, January 12, 2017


The man sitting down in front of me on the packed subway covering his balding head with a black yarmulke elaborately stitched in day-glo mathematical symbols can't seem to keep still, despite his clear best efforts. His red beard twitches as he bites back words, he shrugs, first one shoulder, then the other, nods angrily, looks to his left, tenses up his whole body, then visibly attempts to relax.

I close my eyes and reach out with my mind, as strange as that sounds, and I imagine I can feel knots of tension and anger and crossed neurons that permeate his body, flashing like Christmas lights.

I imagine gently smoothing out one of the knots, but it's like smoothing out a tablecloth with a pebble embedded in the wood underneath, and I abandon my vision, open my eyes with a sigh, and adjust the volume on my headphones before I go back to my book.
One year ago today: Literally
Two years ago today: Adventures in Spatial Integrity
Three years ago today: I'm Not Worthy
Six year ago today: 1/12/11 anatomy of a fight
Nine years ago today: 1-12-08 angels and douchebags

Wednesday, January 11, 2017


My cubemate is taking the end of the week off, which means she's compressing five days of work into three, and the strain is beginning to show. As the pressure mounts, she's taken to saying the phrase, "Tore up from the floor up," over and over (and over) in this sing-songy kind of voice as she goes about her day, and when I ask her to say it a little less, maybe take a break from saying it for a minute, she resorts to just saying "Tore!" and then looking over at me expectantly, and then, a few minutes later, doing it again.

It's pretty funny, because she's not saying it, but she's making me say it, in my head. I figure this makes us even for the time I kept cracking my knuckles, even after she begged me to stop.
One year ago today: Cancer and Entropy
Two years ago today: Making Friends These Days
Three years ago today: A Block is About 100 Steps
Six years ago today: 1/11/11 bad mood meanderings
Nine years ago today: 1-11-08 A New York Moment

Tuesday, January 10, 2017


In the ATM lobby where our block's beggar used to sleep, a security guard now sits his bulk on a stool, idly minding the store. For three nights running I've caught his eye through the window of the bank as the dog and I do our nightly ambulations to her favorite peeing tree and back.

Tonight, I give him a smile as I walk past, and my friendliness seems to startle him. His eyes widen in surprise and he sits up a little straighter, one hand scrambling to push himself more upright, but he doesn't seem to trust my motives, so he doesn't smile back.
One year ago today: Wake Up
Two years ago today: Another Thought on Teeth
Three years ago today: Both Wrong
Nine years ago today: 1-10-08 starry dynamos under glass

Monday, January 9, 2017

Milking It

The dog's been pretty rambunctious at night these days (we call it "twilighting"), probably just a function of a fucked up circadian rhythm due to her age along with the fact that she sleeps all day like a bum, so tonight I decide to walk her a little farther, around the block.

It's pretty chilly, and she doesn't have her inclement weather booties on, so maybe as a result of the cold, or the ice-melting-salt they use in front of the church, or maybe just because she's tired of walking around and wants to go home, but as we get towards the first turn of our journey, she begins the most pathetic pantomime of a lame doge that I've ever seen, limping forward lifting one paw, looking up at me with a wounded look, "no, you go on without me, I'll just end it here, in the cold and wet without a friend in the world," the whole thing.

I think she might be milking it a little, but I'm not a monster, so I turn us back towards home right away to get her out of the cold, and on the way back, a man in a parka with a fur-lined hood walking the other way comes up to her, whereupon the Tiny Tim act goes right out the window and she immediately and without a sign of distress trots up to sniff him suspiciously.

"Awwww, how old is she?" he says, as if she's a puppy, and not a giant old lady faker.
One year ago today: Another Timeline
Two years ago today: Twitching Whiskers
Three years ago today: Think Skinny Thoughts
Nine years ago today: 1-9-08 Lions and Common People

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Snow Globe Sunday

"I dropped my phone in the water," our friend says, "and it stopped working."

We stand off to one side of the side walk, talking while the day is shining bright around us, and the cold winter wind picks up a little.

"You have to take it home right away, put it in rice, and leave it there overnight," Katie says.

I turn around and idly grab a handful of snow off a Christmas tree someone's left on the curb for collection; when I shake my hand, sifting the snow through my fingers, the wind picks it up and swirls it around us, and suddenly all three of us are standing in a glittering snow globe, a cloud of ice spinning and twinkling under the sun.
One year ago today: So, Like, Sushi?
Two years ago today: Compression
Three years ago today: The Play IS the Thing
Nine years ago today: 1-8-08 open heart surgery

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Called on Account of Weather

Outside, snow falls softly like slow-motion static, blunting the sidewalks and streets into silence. I stand in the pizza shop, jacket dripping on the tile floor, while they finish preparing my order.

From the second floor, the party room of the shop, comes a distant, muted cheer that rises like a wave and falls, some folks watching the game, maybe, and the woman sitting at the bar looks up worriedly from her phone before she realizes what's going on and relaxes.

"I thought maybe there was a riot going on, but then I thought," she says to me, looking out at the quiet, empty street, "'In this weather?'"
One year ago today: Startled
Two years ago today: I Love You, MTA
Three years ago today: Frost/bite
Nine years ago today: 1-7-08 Meta-bragging

As Usual

"So the idea is that starting with the birth of Christ is sort of an arbitrary place to begin a calendar." I'm really getting warmed up now, holding forth. "And there are people who are saying that we should start with when people started creating settlements."

Everyone at the table is just sort of looking at me, and I clap my hand over my mouth. "I'm talking too much," I say, apologetically.
One year ago today: Short Women
Two years ago today: Gospel of Thomas, Saying 70
Three years ago today: Might Keep Her Warm, Might Not
Six years ago today: 1/6/11 this story is missing some crucial element, but I can't remember what it is
Nine years ago today: 1-6-08 Destroy all Cockroaches

Thursday, January 5, 2017


I finally give up on her walking down by herself and just pick the dog up and carry her down the stairs, whereupon she goes completely catatonic in my arms. Her head lolls to one side, her tongue hanging out, legs akimbo.

But as soon as I set her down it's like a spell has been broken, and she immediately begins sniffing the woman who was taking care of her while we were away for Christmas, who is waiting inside the vestibule of our apartment building.

"I got cold waiting for you to come down, and then I remembered I could just come inside, 'cause I had a key, but then," she continues sheepishly, "I thought that might be creepy if I just unlocked the door and walked into your house."
One year ago today: Desperate to Connect
Two years ago today: Voyeurism
Three years ago today: Good Night
Six years ago today: 1/5/11 A Little Not Music
Nine years ago today: 1-5-08 out and about

Wednesday, January 4, 2017


In the subway station at the end of the day, the commuters part to either side of the canvasser trying to flag them down like a swift stream gliding around a stone.

He attempts to engage a few more of us until, dejected, he gives up, and he waves me off with a downcast expression when I make eye contact.

But something of his failure seems to attach to me, as if invisibility is a virus that can be transmitted by proximity. I am not a small person, but three people almost run me right over on the way down to the train platform, as if they didn't see me at all.
One year ago today: All For the Best
Two years ago today: Last Day of Vacation
Three years ago today: Attention to Detail (Taking Things Too Seriously)
Five years ago today: 1/4/12 God helps fools and drunks, so don't expect a lot of sympathy
Six years ago today: 1/4/10 (sic) cold to warm
Nine years ago today: 1-4-08 Asian pub rules

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

The Tumor Was Keeping Me Skinny

"I need to wash these pants," Katie says, hooking her thumb into the waistband and pulling it out more than an inch. "With all I ate over Christmas, no way these should be loose."

"I was, like, two hundred nine pounds when I weighed myself this morning," I say.

"Oh my God, you're turning into a FATTY!" Katie shouts in delight.
One year ago today: Tit for Tat
Two years ago today: The World We Live In
Three years ago today: Why Should a Photo Fade?
Five years ago today: 1/3/12 It's really cold, but only for some.
Six years ago today: 1/3/11 Ascension Day
Nine years ago today: 1-3-08 Dream a little dream

Monday, January 2, 2017

5:30 PM

"Holy shit," I say upon glancing out the window at the darkening gloom. "What time is it?"

Katie doesn't even look up from her phone. "It's midwinter," she says.
One year ago today: Have They Seen Me Naked?
Two years ago today: All One Moment
Three years ago today: Never Going Back Again
Five years ago today: 1/2/12 Shopping with the Visigoths
Six years ago today: 1/2/11 You ever get the feeling you've been cheated?
Nine years ago today: 1-2-08 - On Why I Am Well Suited for an Artistic Life

She Doesn't Have Pockets

The homeless guy who haunts our block has a little hustle going with vinyl records and secondhand books that he salvaged from somewhere or other. He lays them out on a blanket in a nice display and offers them for sale while he simultaneously spare-changes pedestrians.

He's got his headphones on today, so we don't speak, but he does give me a fistbump as I walk by with the dog, his expression neutral.

It's only when we're past that he suddenly thinks of what he wants to say, the same thing he says every day, with variations, which he always addresses to the dog: "Hey, where's my New Year's gift?" he asks Coco with a grin, as the dog regards him with a puzzled expression.
One year ago today: Could Be Into More Than One Thing
Two years ago today: Salty Teeth
Three years ago today: I Believe You Have Something of Mine.
Five years ago today: 1/1/12 A new kind of new year
Six years ago today: 1/1/11 We ended up straightening up a little
Nine years ago today: 1-1-08 - A Tiger, A Jacket

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Good Job

We're lazing on the couch in our kimonos, watching the hot takes and videos of Mariah Carey's disastrous New Year's Eve performance in Times Square roll in when the fireworks go off over Prospect Park with a building-shaking boom.

We rush to the window to see the smoke and fire cascading up to the sky from behind the apartment blocking our view across the street, and the windows shake while up and down the street, car alarms go off.

A year of loss, of just getting through, of learning who your friends are, how strong you can be.

Katie turns away from the window and back into the room where it's warm, and quiet, and full of love, saying, "Good job."
One year ago today: Ivory Soap
Nine years ago today: 12-31-07 - So this is the new year...