Saturday, September 22, 2018

Taking Out the Trash

It’s Friday, so we gather up the recycling and the trash and bag it up to go out to the curb - empty cans of cat food and empty plastic tubs of coffee and mayonnaise rattle around in rustling blue plastic bags.

“I thought of a really good thing to write about for my four each day while I was making dinner,” I tell Katie as she ties up a white kitchen bag of trash, “but I forgot it.”

“There’s still time,” she says mildly.

“Yeah, but I’m really good at forgetting things,” I say.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Scale Model

The guy in the storage space next to ours comes back out, and, almost shyly, hands me a stack of photos, saying, “You know how I told you my dad and me used to build model trains for people? This is what we did.”

The photos are poorly lit, and sometimes out of focus, but full of little details: the deep blue rivers and ponds dotting a miniature landscape criss-crossed with rail road tracks on gravel grades, the water towers and oil wells, the little people walking past the smoke shop, the tattoo parlor on the corner.

Something about the pictures seems to evoke a different time, a different world, where railroads tied the country together, and grown men built shrines to the places the trains used to go.

Jaywalking

I wait, standing between two parked cars in front of my building, to cross the street to San Toy Laundry, where we’ve been dropping off our clothes since I moved in here nine years ago. I’m smack in the middle of the block, and the light at the intersection to my left has just turned red, while the intersection to my right is still green, but empty of cars. So I set out.

There’s a car coming, about half a block further on from the intersection to my right, and even though I know I have plenty of time, I hurry a little, imagining for some reason that the driver, seeing me out of the crosswalk and clearly breaking the law, might speed up out of some misguided outrage at a scofflaw like me, or just out of spite.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Anniversary

We walk to the subway for our anniversary dinner after the rain lets up, and the whole world has been scrubbed clean and sparkling by the deluge. Sun comes out from behind clouds and paints the old brownstones in honey and butterscotch, while a plane flies through a patch of sky as clear as glass.

The remnants of the storm are off east of us, a high, heavy bank of clouds, and I remember the day I asked Katie to marry me, and a storm that came through that day, too.

“There’s probably a rainbow,” I say to Katie, pointing to the clouds, remembering the rainbow we saw that day, years ago.

Monday, September 17, 2018

Prophylactic Measures

On TV, a field of black, two pictures of... is it the surface of an alien world? or just a soap bubble. Then, hands come in and grab the pictures and smoothly pivot them, crossing them and gliding them through this primordial, fertile darkness, until we see that the frames of the pictures are actually, phones: specifically the newest iPhones, shining like jewels, like crowns, like stars in the firmament.

“See, this is why I have to mute the commercials,” I turn to Katie where she’s skimming through her phone on the other end of the couch. “I’m weak minded.”

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Couldn’t Have Said It Better

“So I rinse off all the soap suds in the pan, turn it over, and there’s soap suds on the bottom too, of course, but after I rinse off the bottom, I turn it over and there’s soap back in the pan,” I tell Katie.

“You know what’s happening, right?” Katie says, patiently, gently. “When you rinse the bottom of the pan, the soap runs to the edge, and if you don’t wait a second and just quickly turn it over, it runs back down the sides into the pan.”

“You know, there is a way to say that without me feeling completely stupid,” I say, laughing.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

An Audience of One

“Well maybe I’ll just get this puke green shirt instead,” the guy says, after a preceding ten minutes of talking shit about everything in the booth. 

“You know, I noticed that the jokes you tell seem to be aimed at an audience of one,” I say finally. “But I guess if you can only make one person laugh....”

He doesn’t seem to notice, and continues to talk shit, but the girl he’s with makes eye contact with me, and the smile that she’s been forcing grows a touch more genuine, just for a second.

Friday, September 14, 2018

Family Business

“You don’t buy eggs in the morning anymore,” the woman behind the counter at the deli says with a pout as I put my purchases up: loaf of bread, bag of Cheetos, Amy’s frozen pizza, and an apple.

“Well, I don’t have a day job, anymore,” I reply as I put my card into the chip reader. “I work for my wife, so I eat my eggs at home."

“You work for your wife,” she repeats, flat, not a question, exactly, but a general query to the universe, like, what is that like?

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Warm Reception

“Scott Williams,” I tell the receptionist at the clinic when she asks me for Katie’s emergency contact, and she notes that my last name isn’t the same as Katie’s.

“I forgot my ring today,” Katie says sadly, holding up her left hand.

“It’s okay, you’re still married,” I say.

“You guys are cute,” the receptionist says, shaking her head.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Last Call

The bartender at the wine bar has gathered the glasses, wiped down the counter, passed out the checks - it’s last call.

But here she comes, breezing in through the door with her straightened hair streaming behind her and a triumphant look on her face. The bartender, after explaining to her that they’re closing, and being reassured that she only wants “one glass,” reluctantly sets one glass of white up in front of her and leaves her to it.

She sips it slowly as beads of condensation drip down the bowl, and swipes through her phone with an expression that’s both intensely focused, and distracted.

Not Helping

The man standing by the stairs leading out of the subway station is talking to everyone who got off my train, but I can’t hear what he’s saying because I’ve got my headphones on with the music way too loud. A couple of people and I run interference for each other, blocking his line of sight as our paths cross and re-cross in a confusing enough pattern that he doesn’t know who to talk to, until we’re past him without engaging, up on to the streets and away.

But as I begin my walk home, my conscience begins to nag at me: I have change in my pocket, and a swipe on my MetroCard, and I can help, even if it’s just a little bit.

With a sigh, I head back to the subway station, but when I get to the bottom of the stairs, I suddenly recognize him from an encounter a few years back where he tried to scam me into buying him a fifty dollar MetroCard, and I turn around and march right back upstairs with a clear conscience and my change back in my pockets.

Monday, September 10, 2018

I Just Look Like I Belong

As soon as I go back out to the waiting room of the clinic, though, I realize I’ve made a mistake leaving Katie alone to get her wisdom tooth extracted.

Ask the doctor if I can come back in, I text her.

Just knock on the door, she texts back.

And here’s the definition of privilege: I knock on the locked door to go back into the busy clinic area, they don’t know who I am, and this random person opens the door, starts to question me, and I just walk right by them, knowing where I’m going, and they let me.

Tailgating

When we get to a narrow section of the sidewalk, I slow down so that Katie and I are walking in single file, and she looks over her shoulder at me curiously.

“I wanted to give the person behind us a chance to pass,” I say, indicating a woman who’s been shadowing us for almost the entire walk from the subway. People walking too close behind me still make me nervous.

“I think we’ve given her plenty of opportunities,” Katie says, after the woman once again fails to pass.

Sunday, September 9, 2018

A Need For Perspective

“You think Biden could win, though?” I ask Katie, my head in her lap as I lie on the couch, weary from a long at work.

“He needs to get Liberman for VP,” she says, scrolling through her phone.

“Aw, man, Liberman’s the worst,” I reply, whining.

She tilts my face up to look at her, leans in real close, and, without breaking eye contact, says, “Scott, I need you to have some fucking perspective about this."

Friday, September 7, 2018

Nonverbal

After a night of work, I arrive tired at my door just as one of those kids with a clip-board who accosts people on the street for donations to their non-existent baseball or basketball team walks by. I’ve had some run-ins with those kids before, and I’ve been sort of nervous around teenagers since I was one, so my heart-rate goes up a little.

I’m carrying my satchel, but for some reason I pat my pockets for my keys as he passes me on my way up the stairs, even though I know they’re latched on a leather thong in the main pocket of the bag.

I think it was an unconscious action trying to signal to the kid, “Yep, just going inside this building here where somebody is expecting me and so it’s probably not a great idea to try to hit me up for money right this second."

Are Those The Same?

“So, it basically has me working three long days, and closing the rest of the time, but I’m basically doing that right now,” I explain to Katie about the new schedule I’m suggesting for our booth. “I’ve really just got two skills I can offer - I like to sell stuff, and my endurance is good.”

She thinks about this for a second. “Yeah, you’re really good with inertia,” she elaborates.

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Political Stuff

Katie’s suffering with a sore tooth, and after I get off the phone with her dentist to schedule a visit tomorrow, I turn on the tv to try and distract her from the pain.

The late night talk shows are about to start, and I turn back to the internet to see if there are any homemade remedies we can use.

Katie mumbles from the other side of the bed, “No political stuff.”

I think about it a minute, turn on YouTube instead, and cue up “Bondi Rescue.”

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Not Exactly Tartare

He gives me a look as he walks by, but I’m looking at Twitter or something so I almost miss it. I see him when I look up, though, walking by the booth taking a huge bite out of something deep red and squishy with a look of savage glee.

Across the aisle from me, the woman who sells paintings of quirky animals has a look of abject shock, and the even the guy who sells beard products looks a little taken aback.

“Did you see him eating that raw steak?” she says, horrified.


Monday, September 3, 2018

They Work For You

“It’s just,” I say after we finish watching the comedy special, “I wouldn’t want to hang out with him, but he’s so good at what he does that I just know I could never be a comedian.”

“What he’s doing comes from a very dark place,” Katie says over her shoulder as she prepares dinner for the two of us.

“Sure, but he seems like he’s figuring it out so that it works for him,” I reply. “Gotta harness your demons and make them pay rent.”

We Thought It Was Funny

“If you want a real New York experience, down the alley there’s a dead rat that fell from the roadway of the bridge,” my boss says to the milling crowds that seem to be wandering aimlessly through the booth without buying anything. “It’s completely smashed,” he adds.

At least half the people within a 10-foot radius of him start at his words, and simply walk out of the booth, and we both laugh for the rest of the day at this very Andy Kaufman-esque moment.

Later, when I mention how I’m always looking for the human moments when I write about my day, referring back to this story, he says thoughtfully, “I’m not sure that one would translate.” 

Saturday, September 1, 2018

Not Dying

Scratchy throat, runny nose, watery eyes, run down, with a just a soupçon of despair: I sit in my chair at the booth where I’m helping out this weekend and try to muster up the energy to sell shirts.

The woman I’m working for comes by to help restock, and we chat for a little bit, until she coughs a small, dry cough. “There is some kind of allergen or something in the air, because it is getting me today,” she says, wrinkling her nose.

“Oh, I just thought I was dying,” I say, relieved.

Friday, August 31, 2018

Cold Banishing

A night of sad and violent dreams is partially dispersed by an early morning walk to the park with Katie. We sit on the green grass beneath a gray sky and watch scrums of puppies cavort in the breeze while we chat about puppies and grass and breezes, and how wonderfully they interact.

But the anxiety and shame that I’ve brought back to the waking world from my nighttime excursion into the unconscious is still living in my solar plexus, like a cold, wet rag being wound tighter and tighter, and so after we arrive home I take a very cold shower.

The shock of the freezing water hitting my skin obliterates all thought, all emotion, all tension, in a blast of adrenaline, and I can feel the sadness fading, like someone turning down the volume, until only I am left with the cold against my skin, blood pounding in my ears, and I smile.

Teaching Stories

I lay out my mat to do yoga, but before I start, I have to get Katie’s standing desk, where she’s been making new pieces, out of the way.

In doing so, I knock over a small can of paint which spills glittering gold in a smooth, undulating pool across the carpet and wood floor.

Katie and I spend the next twenty or so minutes cleaning up the mess while my heart sinks at the waste of the very expensive paint, and I have trouble getting my mind to focus when I finally do settle in to my yoga session.

A yoga practice interrupted by the wasting of costly gold paint, subsequent cleanup and inability to let it go - it sounds like a teaching story told by a guru of some sort to inspire wisdom and understanding, but I’ll be damned if I know what it means.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Who’s Better?

“Daisy!” the woman surrounded by dogs in the middle of the park meadow brays, and the absolutely filthy poodle-mix that came up to greet us turns attentively. “Come here!”

“She is absolutely my favorite thing in the mornings,” another woman says as she walks by us with her dog.

“Oh yeah, she’s great!” I enthuse, and it’s at least twenty minutes before I realize that she was talking about the lady with the loud voice, and not the filthy but friendly dog.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Bad Earbuds

“Oh, you were here earlier,” the cashier at the drugstore says when I step back up the counter.

“Yeah, I got about halfway down the block to go home when I realized I had to return these because they’re terrible,” I say, giving her the shitty earbuds and the receipt from when we bought them a few weeks ago.

“Well, that’s really the only kind of earbuds we have,” she says, pointing behind her to the top shelf to the array of different colored earbuds, all from the same brand.

“Yeah, I’ll just take the cash.:

People Will Help

It’s hard to tell if the old lady on the ground is hurt, since she’s sitting up and talking, but she clearly fell, judging by the semi-circle of concerned people gathered around her (one of them on the phone with the ambulance), the way her glasses sit slightly askew on her face, and the angle of her cane laying on the sidewalk.

“Just not adding to the chaos,” Katie says to me after we assess the situation, decide that these nice people have things under control, and continue on our way to the grocery store.

“We are not doing like those Kitty Genovese people,” I add jokingly.

“You know that was debunked, right?” she replies, almost angry.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

“Which Are YOU Here To Do?"

“You can’t block the alley - people pass through it all the time,” the older woman says as she easily walks right past the table at the entrance to the alleyway behind the booth where I’m working today.

Dan, my boss, looks at me, incredulous, and then calls after her, “I’ve been doing the flea for eight years and no one’s had a problem yet.”

“Well, I live here,” she shoots back over her shoulder.

He watches after her for a moment, then says to me, shaking his head, “The people I know who go through that alley are either there to do drugs or take a shit.”

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Self-esteem Issues

“I screwed up our date night,” she says, clearly a little buzzed, “so I’m going to buy him a shirt, like a present.”

After a long, very convoluted process, she finally picks one, and as I wrap it up for her, she pulls up a picture of him on her phone.

When I comment that he’s a pretty good looking dude, she says, “Yeah, he’s cute, and he got stuck with me.”

“He’s doing fine, and you’re doing fine,” I say, fixing her with my most serious look.

Friday, August 24, 2018

Stoked

“I mean, I try to stay positive, but I’ve been knocked back a few times,” he says as he absent-mindedly leafs through the shirts I’m selling. “Growing up in foster care will knock you back, for sure.”

“But you seem like the king of being positive,” he says, trying, it seems, to take the focus off himself.

“Yeah, well, I’m pretty stoked most of the time,” I say, cringing a little at myself as I say it, then realizing, cringe or no, that it’s true.

Alt-theology

This is literally the first time I’ve been outside today, I think as I walk down Seventh Avenue. The sun is out, it’s late afternoon, and a cool breeze stirs the air and brings the smell of flowers to me from the stalls outside the grocery store where they sell bunches of carnations and bundles of small roses that will likely die in a day or two once you get them home.

I think about the journal entry I scribbled down right before I left the house to get groceries for dinner. It seemed really important at the time, but now all I can remember writing is, “God is the name we give to the things we think we lack."

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

What It’s Like Behind Your Eyes

“What do you want for dessert?” I ask. We’re sitting on the couch after working all day - her making more sculptures, me cleaning up the house and prepping her work for sale.

She closes her eyes, to think about her answer, the fading light through the eastern windows falling across her face, and I imagine what it’s like behind her closed eyelids: the darkness, the images of various sweet treats that form and dissolve as she decides.

She opens her eyes again, the hazel and blue looking right into my face, and I smile.

Hugs

“And I really dedicated myself to her, to this place,” my friend at my part-time job says, sighing, “but now..., I just really need a break, physically and emotionally.”

“Can I give you a hug?” I say gently.

We hug, and I really concentrate to make sure I’m there, trying to give her a good hug, and she startles for a second, then relaxes.

When she steps back, she shakes her head and says, “Well, that was quite a jolt."

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

One Hand Not In My Pocket

The two delivery guys on their electric bikes are taking up the whole bike lane in front of me while they chat, and Katie is pedaling further and further away.

I don’t begrudge them their powered bicycles, since having to keep up with delivery orders on a regular bike seems like it might be unsustainable, physically.

But I don’t like being this far away from Katie when we’re riding together, so I dip out of the bike lane and into the car lane to pass these guys, and to their credit, they don’t speed up as I pass.

A car coming behind us honks at my intrusion into his lane, and I lift up my hand and flash the guy a peace sign before pulling back into my lane, to thank him for not running me down.

Sunday, August 19, 2018

From My Hand

The only dry spot at the flea market is a narrow alley where I sit on the ground to have lunch, so I’m not particularly surprised when three bedraggled little sparrows fly into the alley and land near me to rest.

Two of them notice me, and immediately fly off, but one sits for a while watching me, so I tear off a small piece of the tortilla I’m eating and hold it out.

The bird cocks its head, chirps concernedly, fixes me with a beady little eye, as if trying to gauge my intentions, but I just sit there without moving, and let the tortilla do the talking.

Finally, after a couple minutes of this, the bird hops over, takes the little bit of tortilla from between my fingers, and hops a few inches away to tear it to pieces and eat it.

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Thought About It

“I should really write today, too,” I think while I’m setting up to play guitar.

But that’s putting it too strongly, when what I really did was imagine the feel of the pen in my hand (it’s got two flat sides where my fingers fit to hold it), and the way the notebook lays a lopsided from the mementos I’ve stuffed into the back-cover pocket (maps of the bike paths where we stayed in Hilton Head, a program from a museum we visited in Miami Beach). I thought about the ink, blue on the off-white, lined paper, and the way it flowed like the pen was an extension of my hand.

I didn’t end up writing in my notebook today, though.

Friday, August 17, 2018

Locked Out of Their Air-BNB?

The night is heavy and humid, but a cool breeze blows from the park, so we decide to take a walk down a residential block.

The glow of streetlights are split by the leaves into obscure shade and harsh patches of light, so it’s a little hard to see, but up about half-a-block away, a man drags a suitcase out onto the sidewalk and then repeatedly, furiously kicks at it. He then stops and stands there, his hand up to his forehead.

By the time we get to him, he’s scrolling through his phone, standing next to the bag that was the object of his rage, while a woman (wife? girlfriend?) sits next to another bag on a small wall, not looking at him.


Thursday, August 16, 2018

A Good Idea For A Bad Mood

After my bad mood has worn off, and I’m mostly returned to sanity, Katie and I sit in the kitchen, exhausted by my fit. We’re figuring out dinner, when I notice the flowers that our roommate has purchased for the house arcing out of the vase on the kitchen table in a spray of purple and white.

“He bought flowers,” I tell Katie, stating the obvious, since both of us have been home all day.

“Yeah, and there’s some in the living room, too,” she says, while I smile at his kindness.


Alternative Theologies

Every time I come to Rockefeller Plaza (today it was for a temp gig), it catches me off guard: the statue of Atlas, hoisting the heavens (complete with astrological symbols) on his shoulders, directly across the street from St. Patrick’s cathedral. 

A little bit further away, just below where they put the huge tree every Christmas, they’ve got that enormous statue of Prometheus clad entirely in gold. It doesn’t get more pagan than that.

It’s like the Rockefellers were deliberately trolling the church, saying, “Look, we’re about the kind of gods that get us paid."

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Storytime

“So the guy that I dropped the piece off with today was like, six inches taller than me,” I say to Katie while she grabs her dinner. “And he had two bands tattooed right here,” indicating my bicep. “Good looking guy, very polite, gave me the money, got his piece and took off.”

“Well, I have no fun stories to tell today, because you know exactly where I was all day - in my studio,” Katie says with a sigh, then she rubs her temples.

Monday, August 13, 2018

Kid Dreams

The kids in the documentary I’m watching (“The Decline of Western Civilization Part II: The Metal Years”) are only a little older than I was when the movie came out, 16 or 17 years old. The concerts, the interviews, the awkward, constant obsession with sex, all take me back to being that age and my teenage dreams of rock stardom.

Somewhere in Tucson, in the archives of a community cable station, there’s an interview with a dreadlocked, tie-dyed-t-shirt-wearing version of me and a guitarist friend of mine, where we play music, and I end up insisting to the host that my parents disapproved of my music; and I thank whatever God there might be watching over me that most of my most awkward moments occurred before the internet.

I turn off the TV and all the lights in the front of the house, walk back to where Katie is getting ready for bed, and say plaintively, “I don’t want to watch the rock-and-rollers anymore."

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Wash Whites Separartely

I get about halfway down the block with my laundry before I realize I feel a little uncomfortable wearing the t-shirt I’m wearing today. It’s laundry day, after all, so it’s pretty old, and it shows a smiling Barak Obama standing in front of the White House with the words “Under New Management” emblazoned beneath, and somehow, even in Park Slope, I feel like I could be baiting some idiot Trump supporter into some kind of verbal assault. We all know that a picture of Barry is to a Trump supporter as blood in the water is to a shark: it drives them crazy.

I adjust the weight of the large sack of clothes on my shoulders so that it doesn’t crank my neck out of joint, and stand up a little taller as I walk past an older white guy who looks like he might be the type to vote Trump and start fights on the street, but he doesn’t even look at me, and I arrive at the laundromat without incident.

Morning Thunderstorm

It isn’t so much raining sideways as it is raining sort of omnidirectionally, a wild torrent of uniformly dense, congealed humidity that is radiating fast in all directions from a central point that is everywhere at once. The trees seem to be vibrating with rain, the wind seems to be coming straight down, and the entire world is soaked beneath a darkened sky in which the sun might never shine again.

And just like that, it’s over, the heavy clouds have abated somewhat, and Katie sits in the window looking out on a flooded Seventh Avenue, trying to entice an only marginally interested cat to come up and sit next to her.

Finally she opens the window, and the cat immediately jumps up beside her, and the two of them commune over the soggy ruins of Brooklyn while I lay on the floor, huffing in the fresh, ozone heavy air.

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Don’t Flinch

Some faces it’s easier to see contorted in hate than relaxed in love, but that may be a failure of imagination on my part. They’re smiling right now, standing in the door of the train, but their energy is all teenage boy: aggressive, impatient, like they’re about to explode just from being alive.

He feints a punch toward his friend, demonstrating the form, his fists look like stones, or knots at the ends of branches, solid and heavy and dense. His friend laughs, doesn’t flinch.

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Making the Best Of It

But when we get off our bikes at the movie theater, the MoviePass app suddenly can’t remember what we were talking about before we left. “Oh, there aren’t any movies you can go to at this theater!” it now says. “Weird, huh?”

Katie sighs as we go back to our bikes, and says, “Want to go get ice cream?"

Homebodies

Katie and I sit on the couch, phones in hand, reading descriptions to each other of the symptoms of mercury poisoning and the current and past uses of mercury in industry. The couch is covered in a purple slip cover that is thin and soft and somewhat shapeless, but very easy to sit on, while to the right of the couch, stacked up the wall, are boxes and boxes of glass containers to be used for our business, and next to that, a couple of guitars. The coffee table, which a few years ago Katie decoupaged with pages from an old dictionary, holds a couple of remotes, some candles, salt and pepper shakers, a couple of mugs that recently held scoops of homemade vanilla ice cream covered in chocolate syrup, and a silicon “gourd” filled with maté and bomibilla next to a thermos.

We sit for a while, chatting about music, and mercury, and nitrates, and botulism, until we get sleepy, and it’s time to take a shower and go to bed.

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Scurry

The sky quickly grows alarmingly dark and full of thunder, and the three of us run downstairs to sit on the stoop and watch the storm come in.

Our landlord comes out of the appliance store that he runs on the first floor to load a dishwasher onto his hand truck, and, seeing us perched on the front stairs grinning like idiots, he shakes his head.

“Just don’t hold hands,” he says, half-joking, and we laugh, as though the idea of lightning striking us here, in Brooklyn, in 2018, were even something that could possibly happen.

There’s a sudden flash of light that turns the entire world into a negative, washed-out version of itself, followed almost immediately by a crack of thunder that seems to fill the universe, and we scurry back upstairs to the safety of our apartment.

Guitar Face

I press play, and Katie listens respectfully to the song I’ve been working on all night. It’s been a while since I’ve sung, so I’m a little nervous about the vocals.

Then it gets to the modulation, the drums kick in, and I’m starting to get really into and apparently it’s showing in my expression.

“Oh my God, what is happening with your face right now?” Katie asks worriedly.

Monday, August 6, 2018

Vintage

“That’s someone’s family,” the woman says to her friends as she shuffles through old portraitss at the market where I’m working.

“Well, I mean, really, we’re all somebody’s family,” I say, sidling up next to them.

“That’s true,” she says thoughtfully, holding one of the pictures up, “but this really looks like somebody in my family.”

I look at the picture, and it does sort of resemble one of my grandmothers, and I shrug and agree.

Saturday, August 4, 2018

Mindfulness

Katie gets up from where she’s doing her morning work unfolding butterflies and opens the window to a rainy morning. The cat, who up to now has been sleeping next to me on the floor while I do yoga, gets up and trots over to the window, her nose twitching.

“Yeah, you don’t usually get new smells when it’s super hot outside, do you?” Katie says, but the cat ignores her, jumps up on the perch we got her, and lays down staring out the window. I watch her side rise and fall with each breath, and then close my eyes and lie back on my mat to concentrate on my breathing.

Moms and Sons

The woman sitting across from me on the train and her teenage son make quite a pair. She is beautiful, well put together, in a colorful, flowery, sleeveless blouse that shows off her tattoos (the symbol for the astrological sign Cancer on her shoulder and a rose on her hand), and high heels, while her son, in contrast, is stereotypically nerdy: tall, skinny, glasses, in clothes that don’t fit, and a slightly dreamy, slightly ashamed expression, like he’s a bit embarrassed to be existing so loudly. 

I find myself thinking about how kids grow up, how the geeky kid who we thought didn’t have a clue or a future can grow up to be beautiful and successful, and how its possible the mom in this odd couple across from me feels a certain sympathy for her son, because he might be the way she was when she was young.

When I look back, he’s fallen asleep on her shoulder, and she pats his head tenderly.


Thursday, August 2, 2018

Some More

“So what’s your favorite part of the s’more?” I ask as I slowly turn my marshmallow over the gas burner on our stove.

Katie looks at me with the most pitying look I’ve ever seen, then, realizing I’m serious, her face grows stern.

“No such thing,” she says firmly.

“Ah, it’s all one thing,” I say, and she gives look that can only be described as “No doy."

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Better? Or Worse?

When Katie picks her up, the cat instantly goes from a soft, affectionate ball of fur (albeit a starving one who will tell you all about it at the soonest opportunity) to a stiff-legged, humiliated victim of horrendous abuse. From the prison of Katie’s embrace she turns to stare at me balefully.

“Well, at least she’s not actively trying to die,” I say, referring to our first cat, Honey, who liked to hold her breath in rage when people picked her up for snuggles, presumably in order to end her own life and escape the hellscape of existence.

“It’s..., uh..., true,” Katie says, as the cat meows mournfully and twists around until she’s cradled like a baby in Katie’s arms.

Heroism Without the Attitude

The very nice flight attendant who upgraded Katie and me to an exit row is now asking her standard question in a slightly bored tone: “Are you ready, willing, and able to assist in the event of an emergency?”

But when the older lady across the aisle from us doesn’t answer exactly in the affirmative (“I suppose so,” she says in an irritated tone), the flight attendant perks up, and not in happy way.

They go back and forth for a few seconds until the woman finally gives an answer that satisfies our attendant, and then she prepares to go back to the script while the woman mutters under her breath.

“Good,” the attendant says, straightening back up,  “and I can do without the comments."

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Thwarted

When I get within five feet of the squirrel in the middle of the backyard, and he still hasn’t moved, I resort to drastic measures, but even throwing my empty ginger ale can in his direction doesn’t seem to faze him. He starts a little in irritation as it lands in the grass near him, and then proceeds to scamper at a leisurely pace between the trees and under the fence to the neighbor’s yard where he turns back to me as if to ask, “Satisfied, you meanie?”

“Did you come out here just to save that squirrel’s life, Scott?” he says, standing on the back porch with an air rifle in his hands and an exasperated smile on his face.

“What do you think?” I reply with a grin.

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Decorative Sasquatch

In an effort to get out of the house, we take a walk on the bike path meandering behind and between the yards of the large suburban homes in Katie’s old neighborhood, with fences and trees guarding immaculate lawns surrounding us on both sides.

Just off the path, we see a tiny, thin vine that seems to be growing out of nothing, attached to nothing, but upon more close examination we notice the almost invisible corkscrew tendrils that anchor it to the dead pine needles littering the ground, and underneath each little leaf, a miniature yellow flower growing.

We continue our walk down the path until we reach a dead end, but as we come around a corner, someone has placed a small statue of a Bigfoot in the traditional pose (walking with a sort of loping gait, hunched a little, looking over his shoulder like he expects somebody to ask him to help him move a couch and he wants to be out of there before it gets awkward). Both of us have been watching Planet of the Apes movies, and so we both jump and yelp a little when we first see it, like we think it might start demanding equal rights.

Pose and Reality

We pose by the water while Katie’s dad takes a photo. I tilt my chin, try to remember to stand up straight, to look into the lens, to smile so it doesn’t look like I’m grimacing. Loud music blares from a speaker where two people sit resting who will, in a moment, be dancing to entertain the throngs of tourists crowding the docks.

We walk back toward the car and pass a child crouching in a fountain as torrents of water firehose onto him, and as we pass, he closes his eyes, moves deeper into the cascade, and seems to disappear almost completely.

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Denial

I’m floating in the surf, my head and shoulders just above the surface, my brain waves smoothing out in rhythm with the rollers, when Katie’s brother catches my attention from a few yards away. “They’re coming to get us out,” he says, pointing behind us to the beach.

Katie and her dad are on the shore, the sky behind them piled high with thick, heavy, black clouds, grumbling with thunder.

I turn away, back to the ocean, staring with longing at the tide just starting to come in.

Thursday, July 26, 2018

A Disturbance in the Force

“Scott,” says Katie, poking her head around the open sliding glass door, “stop reading the internet and come out here."

I dutifully step out into the darkness of a humid South Carolina night, and am greeted by a cacophony of voices: frogs, hundreds of them from the sound of it, all of them ribbiting and creaking and chirping in a metallic, croaking polyrhythm across the lagoon out behind our beach house.

Suddenly, after we listen to them for a few minutes, all of the voices cut off, and Katie and I look at each other curiously. Then, a hiss rises from the lagoon, and we hear a gentle drumming on the patio roof as it begins to rain.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Riding the Waves

There’s a sensation right before the wave comes: like I’m going to be pulled up the glassy green face of it and shot into the sky with the foam.

I push off the bottom and kick like mad, one arm in front to steer, one arm by my side, and I can feel the wave pick me and amplify my momentum. There’s a sound, too, rushing water, surging blood in my ears, and the feeling of flying, of being carried by a force so much bigger than me, lifted by a hand that could accidentally crush me without even knowing that I’m there.

When I’m done, I look back, forty yards or so back to where I started, to see Katie and her brother laughing in the surf, and I stand up in the shallows and start walking back to do it all over again.

Close Enough

‘Pressure Drop’ plays over the resort sound system as I sneak into the restroom during my afternoon on the beach, and I pee and sing along quietly, continuing to do so afterwards as I wash my hands until a man steps up next to me.

“You know who this is?” he says in a Caribbean accent, pointing up at the overhead speaker.

Of course I blank on the band the moment somebody asks me, but I punt, saying, “I know it’s from ‘The Harder They Come.’”

He considers this, then shrugs and nods, like, sure, that’ll do.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Only The Brave Deserve The Fair

We exit the main highway and drive down a tree-shaded road. Katie is checking her phone in the back while Audrey cheerfully continues to chatter away, periodically taking both hands off the wheel to gesture emphatically about a point she is making, and I watch the road in front of us, taking in the gorgeous green of oak and pine surrounding us on all sides.

Suddenly, for no reason, my vision seems to somehow expand, and where I normally see in a narrow slice in front of me, I now see wide-screen, as if the world has opened up, like in The Wizard of Oz, where Dorothy’s story goes from black and white into full-blown, saturated color.

My stomach drops away, like I’m not so much moving through the world as falling into it, hurtling into a space that is so rich and deep that I will be swallowed up, so I pull back my consciousness, startled, and the world obligingly retreats into its usual narrow band, normal, ordinary, and I wonder what I have lost.

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Cranky at Dinner

Katie pokes her head in the door. “You’re not napping?” she exclaims in faux outrage.

I sheepishly take off my headphones, and over the tinny sound of bass, high hat, and snare rattling from the cans, start to explain, but she brushes me aside.

“If I put you down for a nap and you don’t nap, you might get cranky at dinner!” she says, as if she is pretending to be stern.

Team Sports

“Wasn’t that the dorm where all the football players lived?” Audrey asks as she drives down the road. All of the roads in North Carolina are surrounded by a riot of green - trees, grass verges, shrubs - and the air is wet with humidity.

“On game days, they’d take your IDs and if you were still in there after 11 PM they’d come and find you and throw you, I guess so you didn’t like deplete their testosterone or something,” she continues.

Katie scoffs, “Buncha sexual predators in there."

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Boarding

“I’ve always hated the term ‘pre-boarding,’” Katie says, grimacing as the platinum flyers, the gold level status passengers, the medallion level customers, the whatevers all begin to board the plane before us.

“It’s just a scam to get people to believe that they’re special, to pay for the privilege of being ahead of you,” I reply.

“So if you have ‘Zone 1’ on your ticket, it’s actually, like, the third group to get on,” she says, pointing bitterly at the spots in front of the ticket taker’s desk where each group can line up for ‘Zone 1’ and so-on.

“‘Zone 4’ is actually just the bar next to the gate,” I say, and Katie laughs.


Thursday, July 19, 2018

Different Styles

After she double checks the address on the letter she’s sending and then reopens the door on the mailbox to see if it actually went down, Katie notices me smirking.

When she asks me about it, I explain, “Just, you and I do things totally differently.”

“You can’t get it back!” she says defensively. “It’s a federal offense!"

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

When You Have Enough Money to Not Own Anything

“Do these people have anything in their houses?” Katie asks as we walk down another side street. The air is calm and cool, and an almost half-moon hangs in the dusk. 

“It’s like they’re trying to figure out that balance between minimalism and having a really huge house,” I reply. “Minimalism is a privilege."

Storm’s Coming

“Well,” I think to myself, sitting in the kitchen after Katie has left, “I should jump on my bike and head over to the mall to buy those shoes.”

boom goes the sky, in a low-key, grumbly sort of way, and I look out the window to see that the horizon is blanketed in dark, angry looking clouds.

Within minutes, the world has gone three shades darker and more foreboding, and, as the wind begins to throw its weight around and whip the trees back and forth, I text Katie, “Yeah, I think I’m staying home."

Monday, July 16, 2018

Gone for the Summer

The boredom of a Monday night forces us outside, only to find oppressively quiet streets and thick, wet air that slow breezes only stir around to no relief.

“Want to walk toward the park?” I ask Katie. “It might be cooler.”

She thinks it over, maybe mulling the effort required to walk uphill, and finally agrees, so we walk up a side street under lights hazed by halos of moisture past silent homes, and peer in windows at empty kitchens and front halls; nobody home.

Multi Talented

“We should be a band!” my co-worker exclaims. The World Cup final is over, and elated or despondent fans are exiting the bars and examining the items we have for sale.

“You play a lot of instruments,” he continues, “and I can MC, and you,” he says to another of our co-workers, “what do you do?”

“I’m the one who tells you about yourself,” she says sardonically.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Uninspired

This beat, which I’ve been working on for the last hour, changing the drum sounds, changing the accents, this beat... sucks. It’s too slow, or too spare, or just not very exciting, I’m not sure.

I take the headphones off (it continues playing, tinny and faint around my neck) and sigh deeply, and put my hands over my eyes. I can feel the lack of inspiration like a bandana wrapped tight around my head, and, with another sigh, hit stop, unplug the keyboard and USB interface, and begin wrapping up the cables.


Wait Lifting

The third box, the biggest one, is by far the heaviest yet, and I can feel the small of my back protesting faintly until I adjust to lift correctly using my legs.  The contents shift slightly, and I hear the mildly distressing clink and rustle of pulverized glass sifting across the inside of the cardboard.

I haul the box out the front of the store, and as I stomp into the late afternoon, I can hear my landlord behind me. “You don’t have to remember to go to the gym today,” he calls to my retreating back, and I give a grudging, somewhat forced laugh.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Lillies Need Sunshine

The cold air of the grocery store chases me out into the mild late afternoon sunshine, and I breathe in the fragrant air. “Did you want to take the long way home?” I ask Katie. 

She looks around hesitantly for a second, then nods. We walk down the hill away from the one church, and toward the other, and the sun turns the bricks all creamy, and the lilies they planted in the churchyard look like they’re just about to open.

SOS

“Stay out here,” I say to Katie before heading back (for the second time) in to the aisle of tools at the local big-box hardware store. “I’ll come get you.”

Like before, there’s nobody in there to help me, and the aisles seem organized in some non-arbitrary but impenetrable fashion that costs me several minutes of wandering before I find what we’re looking for, and then a couple more minutes to dig my way back out.

“I was going to shoot up a flare,” I say when I find her standing next to the bored looking cashier, “but I don’t think they would have approved."

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Contradictions

“This is the knife that almost sliced my finger off right before our wedding,” I say as I use it to slice strawberries for dessert. Katie examines it.

“It’s still pretty dull,” she pronounces.

“It is,” I say, “but the problem is that it’s dull enough to slip, and sharp enough to nearly slice my finger off."

Monday, July 9, 2018

Finished

“He bought a brownstone, just a few blocks from where your parents stayed at that Air Bnb,” Katie says as we walk down Sixth Avenue in Brooklyn. Trees shade the sidewalk and a light breeze keeps us cool on this hot day.

“They paid, like, six million for it and still did a gut renovation on the thing,” she adds incredulously.

“If I pay six million dollars for something, that shit better be finished,” I say

Side Effects

Both Dan and I smell it at the same time: the unmistakeable, piney, pungent odor of weed drifting over the booth in this outdoor market. 

I peek my head around the corner to the alley where we suspect the smell is coming from, and as I do, a guy just sort of standing back there by himself looks up at me, like he’s been waiting for me to show. We lock eyes for a long second before I turn around and go back to the booth.

“Yeah, that guy’s high, totally paranoid,” I say to Dan when I return.

Saturday, July 7, 2018

For Display Only

“Hey,” I say to one of the other vendors who I know has been trained at the booth where I’m working today. “Did they ever teach you how to fold these scarves?”

“No, sorry,” she says, shrugging.

“‘Cause they’re double sided and I want to display both sides, but I’m pretty sure I’m gonna fuck it up,” I say as I walk away.

True Love

“I gotta get ready to go to work,” I say to Katie as I stand up from the couch. She stays where she is.

I’m already halfway down the hall when I hear her stand up too. “Fine, I’ve paused ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ because I love you,” she yell after me.

Friday, July 6, 2018

Allegedly

Katie turns the screen of her phone to me and swipes through another half-dozen photos of our recently deceased puppy. They’re in no particular order, so we watch her transition from relatively young and ridiculously photogenic, to older, slightly crooked, and ridiculously photogenic, and back again.

I’m still feeling a little sad and nostalgic when Katie takes back her phone, then turns it around again, to show me a picture of myself from two years ago: bald, somewhat sickly, thin and pale, clutching Katie’s teddy bear, about to go under the knife for surgery to remove a tumor the size of large grapefruit from my thigh.

“That’s weird,” I say, unable to completely convey how long ago that seems, how far away, as if it happened, not to someone else, but not at all, a rumor I might have heard, scarcely to be believed.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Attitude

“Do not take a cab,” says the woman a few seats behind us on the train home from New Jersey. We’ve spent the Fourth of July celebrating the birthday of our dear friend, but a day out in the continuing heat wave has depleted us, leaving us with very little patience for entitled college students on their cellphones.

“You’ll get caught in firework traffic, and, just, Jesus are you crazy?” she continues, full-voiced.

“I hate her voice, but I like her attitude,” I tell Katie, who sighs, but nods.

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Heat Death of the Universe (NYC Edition)

“Do not go outside,” John, our roommate, intones dramatically as he flings open the front door and leaves it to slam to behind him. “It is so hot!”

“Pretty bad, huh?” I say mildly from the kitchen down the hall.

“We’re all going to die,” he says with finality.

Monday, July 2, 2018

Avocado Lottery

The avocados on the bottom shelf are rock hard, the ones on top squishy and disgusting. I touch a few of each to try and find the magic medium and snatch my hand back in horror and repulsion, which draws the attention of another shopper.

“I think there might be one... yes, here you go,” he says, pulling it out and offering it to me.

I take it, and then promptly try and give it back to him, but he demurs, and I put it in my bag with a sort of grateful incredulity, like someone found a winning lottery ticket and just... handed it to me.

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Those We Love

The heat is clearly getting to everyone, even if the train is air-conditioned, and people are just sort of barely tolerating one another in such close proximity, so I’m not exactly surprised when a woman makes a loud, startled, angry noise, and I look up from where I’m standing to see a pleasant, soft-eyed dog wearing a muzzle dance away behind his owner from a seated woman giving him the evil eye for having gotten just a little too close.

“Some people don’t like dogs,” Katie says with a shrug.

“Sure,” I say, “but touch my dog and I’ll end your fucking life.”

“Touch my dog and I’ll end your fucking life,” Katie says, nodding.

Saturday, June 30, 2018

It’s All In The Attitude

“I’m not really sure I can pull this off,” the dad says, dubiously eyeing the colorful, differently patterned cuffs and collar on the very fashionable shirt I’m selling at a friend’s booth.

“Well, it’s like how some people say they aren’t ‘hat people?’” I tell him. "Well, you know how you become a ‘hat person?’ You put on a hat."

Emotional

After our meal celebrating my birthday, Katie and I sit close together, holding hands, talking quietly, making jokes, the way we usually do. Two other couples sit a few seats away, chatting pleasantly.

As we go over the bridge, though, the guy wearing the hoodie who’s been curled up in the corner seat suddenly sits up with a stricken look on his face. “Too many emotions!” he whines desperately, then fumbles a cigarette out of his pocket and lights it while the rest of the car stares in mild horror.

Friday, June 29, 2018

Saved by Serifs

Shootings, racist DHS employees, Supreme Court disasters, and an upcoming birthday all join forces to turn the volume WAY up on the noise in my head, until finally Katie has had enough.

“Will it help to try to count the number of cats JT has? They’re all named after fonts,” Katie asks.

We end up debating the relative merits of serifed versus sans serif fonts for over an hour, and how Times New Roman might be one of the more perfect fonts ever made, and, frankly, it really does help.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Memory Loss

“Yeah, he lived with us for a while, and he was a DJ, I think? and he had all his records in this, like, plastic tub that just weighed a ton that we had to carry upstairs. I don’t really know what happened to him...,” I finish, and my voice sort of trails off.

All of these people, more each year, who I know or more like knew, people I don’t speak to anymore, or who don’t speak to me, or who just sort of drifted off, all of these stories that I had with them that don’t have endings, just unravelings.

Memories are not something we carry solely in ourselves, but in the stories between us, and when the other participants are gone, a piece of our own story goes with them.

Wasted Effort

The tall couple that squeezed by us down the row during previews smelled really good - clean and citrusy.

After the movie Katie stands up out of the row and moves behind me, and I stand so they can get out while they gather their trash and bags and get ready to go.

Instead of coming out the way they came in, though, the couple ignore us and make their way out the other end of the row, which is probably smart, but still feels kind of like we’ve been slighted.

I make eye contact, smile, and say, “Okay,” as they go, but the woman only looks confused.

Monday, June 25, 2018

Back to our Regularly Scheduled Program

The SUV to the airport pulls up across the street, and we hustle my mother and father through traffic while the driver folds up my mother’s walker and tosses the luggage in the back. She clambers up into the back seat, and my hand on her back feels huge next to the light, bird-like bones of her back.

“We had such a good time,” she says, after giving me a kiss, and my father, from the other side of the seat, reaches over her back to bump fists before I shut the door.

I back away from the vehicle with an apologetic wave to the truck that’s been idling behind us while we say our goodbyes, and the driver of the truck shrugs while the SUV pulls away, headed toward the airport, and traffic slowly resumes its usual pace, a constantly flowing river of steel that washes away all traces my family was ever even here.

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Mom Is Independent

After helping my mother to stand up from the bench outside the Botanical Gardens, the stranger says, “If my mama was here and knew that I didn’t help, I woulda got a smack.” He mimes whacking his own wrist.

I nod in agreement as my mother and father make their way to the curb where the car will soon be waiting. “Kinda the same, except my mom would prefer I not help her,” I say, laughing.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Midsummer Lights

The wine sloshing around in my veins as I walk home from my parents’ Air B’n’B makes me pleasantly sleepy, even though there’s still a tint of light left in the sky. We stroll up the hill to our block, passing beneath trees and looking in windows as we pass the houses, and I’m thinking about my upcoming birthday.

Ahead in the dim, twilight shade, a single, tiny green light hovers and flits for a moment and disappears. “Firefly,” I say to Katie, pointing to the space where it was a moment ago, but it’s already gone.

Philosophy

The SUV from North Carolina in front of us is riding the brakes all the way down the West Side Highway, and our driver keeps trying to pass, only to find himself back behind him again when the flow of traffic changes.

“My last business was in cosmetics,” he says after trying to pass again, “but I made a purchase for thirty thousand dollars and the buyer ran off with my money.”

From the back seat I can see him shrug as he continues, “The bank said there was no way to trace him, and I wasn’t even the first person to report him, but everything happens for a reason, so what can you do?”

“Very philosophical,” my mother says thoughtfully.


Thursday, June 21, 2018

Young Married Couples

“I was 190 pounds when we first married, a real horse,” my father says. “Resting heart rate around fifty, so when we’d go to to sleep, my breathing would be about the same as my heart rate, so it’d be really slow.”

“When your mom would try to match my breathing, she’d have to wake me up because she was suffocating,” he continues.

“I nearly died!” she exclaims.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

What We Think Is Funny

The video our friend sends us of the car burning in the back of the box truck outside our subway station is spectacular - flames leaping high, ashes swirling, the whole thing - and he advises us that the station is full of smoke, maybe to take another way home.

But when we get back to the station from our movie, everything seems to be under control, except somebody has put one of those tiny conical air fresheners you sometimes see in gas station bathrooms at the top of the stairs.

Out on the street, though, the smoldering remains sits sullen in a puddle of sooty water, and the air reeks of smoke and burnt chemicals, causing me to remark, “I can feel myself getting cancer just standing here and breathing.”

“Again!” says Katie cheerfully.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

One Hundred Twenty-Five Steps

I sit up from where I’m writing. “Jesus, I don’t think I left the house today,” I say.

“That’s always a fun realization,” Katie says, slipping a t-shirt over her head as she readies for bed. “Probably only clocked about a hundred and twenty-five steps, too, but, to be fair, we were only up for around twelve hours,” she adds as she heads into the kitchen to make tomorrow’s coffee.

Called On Account Of

The Brooklyn Cyclones are ahead by five runs, which is rare enough that we're all avoiding remarking on it. Superstition.

"I believe they can win," says Pete as he finishes his margarita.

"Well, now you've done it," I say, and it starts to rain.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Charmed, I’m Sure

“Your partner is lovely,” I tell my co-worker Pat after she gives me the bottled water that her partner bought me.

“Yeah, I’m glad you met her,” Pat says with a smile. “Last time we met, you were talking so much about your wife I was like, ‘Yo, I’m not hitting on you, I’m a big ol’ dyke.’”

“Oh, no, I talk about her all the time, and to be fair,” I add, “you might still be hitting on me, because I am damn charming."

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Sleepy Time

I lay down for a nap. The bed is soft, and I am very tired after getting up at five in the morning to work a shift for a friend of mine.

I know that if I lay still for long enough, my body will relax, and sure enough it does, but all that means is that I’m able to feel the adrenaline that has been keeping me upright still shoving its way through my veins. The heavy pounding of my heart shakes my entire body, but the sensation is almost delicious, because I know that very soon I’ll be completely unconscious, and very shortly whatever “I” was will have disappeared in the long, slow labyrinth of my body and sleep.

Friday, June 15, 2018

Night Music

The Philharmonic plays light selections of classical music while we sit on the grass in the park and eat until we have to stop because to eat any more would be injurious. Afterwards there are fireworks, greens and purples and reds and golds sparkling in the sky over our heads, and I try to conjure up the feelings fireworks gave me as a child, the wonder and awe, but for some reason I keep thinking of Weimar Germany, and so many families for whom the upcoming Fourth of July festivities celebrating freedom will just be empty words.

We walk home beside the park afterwards, all the plants exhaling slow, green air for us to inhale, and families and couples peel off down particular side streets according to their privilege. We turn off a bit further along, mostly just following the crossing lights, and see cranes above the buildings, paused in their work remaking the face of Brooklyn, their long necks and heads lowered like enormous, heavy animals, slumbering in the twilight of the glow of the city that burns the thin clouds orange and gray.

Beacon

Riding our bikes back home from the movie theater around midnight, we pass quietly through mostly empty Brooklyn streets, between rows of houses glowing sleepily with warm nighttime light or shuttered and dreaming.

Katie’s taillight blinks red like the lights on the wings of a high, silent airplane as we glide through the cool night air. She passes beneath the shadow of a tree, and I have this vertiginous sensation, a foreground/background shift, snapping the whole street into focus.

The tall trees thick with foliage blocking out the elegant, alien swan-necks of the streetlights; the silent, slumbering houses, and just a few yards ahead, the beacon of my love’s taillight, steady as a pulse, pulling me through the night, guiding me home.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Gentrification

The desolate Brooklyn streets are flanked by warehouses and industrial decay, painted up in gaudy hues with spraypaint murals. We sit on the wood fence and eat pizza while white, college-looking kids drift in and out of the bar next door.

A woman strides by, headphones firmly in her ears. “That’s the first black person I’ve seen in almost an hour,” I say to Katie, and she nods and takes another bite.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

His Face

In the storage space where we keep everything for the family business, at the end of a long hallway, this guy is standing. He squints at me with his mouth open, like he can’t quite believe what he’s seeing, and then starts down the hall toward me wheeling a dolly heavy with boxes.

My heart quickens a little as I realize we’re going to have to pass one another between the seemingly endless rows of identical storage lockers, and I turn up my music like a shield against the world.

He brushes by me without making eye contact, or even acknowledging me at all, while maintaining the same expression, and I realize that may just be his face.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Power Up

“Okay, so, in Super Mario, the raccoon suit? is the best power-up to get,” Katie leans over and murmurs to me as we ride the subway into Manhattan.

“Sure, it like makes you invincible or something,” I reply.

“Yes, but having said that, I would not get the raccoon suit tattooed on my calf,” she says, pointing out the massive, really depressed looking guy in the shorts about to get off the train at the next stop who, sure enough, has the raccoon suit Mario tattooed on his thick calf.

I watch this guy for a bit, his hunched shoulders and dejected expression, and I wish he had been born about five hundred years ago, where, instead of seeming to feel uncomfortable in his own skin, his impressive bulk would have made him the most feared and terrifying of the king’s marauders, allowing him to crack skulls and pillage all over the countryside like the true bad ass he is.

Iodinated Contrast

It’s raspberry flavored,” the nurse says, setting down a liter bottle of red liquid.

“And I have to drink it all?” I say, eyeing it dubiously.

“I’m not going to make you drink all of it,” she says, shrugging a little, “but it’s better if you drink as much as you can, because it’ll make the picture better.”

“I kind of like the taste,” says a woman sitting in the corner of the waiting room, saluting me with her almost empty bottle.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

From the Mouths of Children

Another block party along the bike path has the entire street closed off, so Katie and I get off and walk our bikes past the tables set up in the road, past the dads serving ice cream from enormous tubs into styrofoam bowls, past the the families playing corn hole, past the dog behind the fence barking desperately to join in the game of frisbee happening just a few maddening feet away.

We get almost to the end of the block and, seeing almost nobody around except for a couple of kids, I get back on my back and start riding, only to hear a young voice admonish, “Don’t ride your..., don’t ride your bike!”

I ignore the kid and go through the intersection, and when Katie finally catches up with me, I say, laughing, “You hear that kid scolding me?”

“That’s why I didn’t ride my bike back there,” she says earnestly.

Saturday, June 9, 2018

I See

...her across the street. Me watching her, her watching a starling that alighted near her in the crosswalk, cars whizzing between us.

She opens her phone to check something. I open my phone to write this down.

Friday, June 8, 2018

Her Arsenal

I’m sitting on the couch, reading after Katie has headed back to the bedroom to start getting ready for bed. I’ve turned off the TV and the house is quiet.

From the other end of the house comes the cat, meowing in high dudgeon that she has still, at this hour, still not been fed her final meal of wet food for the day.

She runs up to right where I’m sitting and stares at me for just a moment expectantly, as if the entire universe has paused in the space between us, before unleashing a series of angry, wet, explosive sneezes that spatter the couch, and then, with one last contemptuous look, running back to the kitchen to wait for me to come feed her.

Thursday, June 7, 2018

They’re Going to Find Out

“Yeah, I’ll work really hard to not go back into an office,” I tell my friend as we wait for his food. The woman spreads a thin sheet of batter on the large, round griddle, and it almost immediately starts to bubble and steam until it’s formed a crepe, whereupon she heaps brown saucy things and green spicy things on it and folds it into a warm delicious packet.

“The thing for me is, I’m sort of a director now,” he says earnestly. “Managing people, projects, upper management, and I always get the feeling every time I go in I’m going to be found out."

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Literally The Least We Could Do

The ad for the new podcast says, “And we ask the important questions too, like, is Will Smith just coonin’?”

“There are plenty of things I’m not allowed to say,” I muse to Katie. “They’re not for me, and I’m okay with that.”

“Reparations!” she shouts in agreement, walking back into her studio.

He’s Optimistic Things Will Get Worse

He sits on a milk crate by the curb, a resigned look on his face, his wares spread out before him in tidy, colorful rows. But nobody is buying on this blue-sky, sunny day because the only thing he is selling is umbrellas - short ones, long ones, in every hue of the conspicuously absent rainbow.

When I point him out to Katie, we agree he’s certainly emblematic of something. “Or,” she says, “he’s Nostradamus, like, ‘What do you know?’"

Monday, June 4, 2018

Parting Gifts

Amongst the increasing piles as we tear down the booth on our last day at the market are a bunch of tarps that we used to protect the merchandise from a leaky vent that was raining water down on our stuff.

Don’t need it anymore, though, so I wad up the clear, thin plastic stuff that more closely resembles garbage bags than anything else, and take it over to the manager running things.

She’s French, and we’ve only really started chatting the last couple of weeks, but she seems nice, so I tease her a little as I hand her the tarps, growling, “Don’t say I never gave you anything.”

She takes them with exaggerated delight, says, “Oh, I will make the most beautiful, transparent dress.

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Distracted

I’m pretty sure this kid’s mom is going to buy her a butterfly.

If I can only keep her focused long enough to freakin’ pick one.

“So in the game? there’s like jewels, but they’re not really jewels they’re coins, just different colored coins, like blue, like a sapphire, but you can use them to buy, like different animals to be, but most of the animals cost one hundred and fifty but right now, I have seventy six,” she says, having not paused once to so much as breathe the entire time.

“Let me just check the price on this one,” she says for the fifth time, going over to the big piece with a giant blue butterfly that she really wants, even though we both know that her mom isn’t going to cough up the cash for that one, and that she has to pick one of the smaller pieces, and I grit my teeth and smile.

Friday, June 1, 2018

Unselective Memory

I chat with my childhood friend online, and after the discussion about music and how his kids are doing, I discover he doesn’t remember seeing one of the many movies we saw together. It was this terrible hip-hop film vehicle for Dr. Dre and Ed Lover of Yo Mtv Raps! fame called “Who’s The Man?” - he and I would see about a movie a week for a while there, going and seeing whatever was in the theater, and while we saw a lot of dreck, this particular piece of dreck really burned into my memory.

“It was right around the time we saw ‘Clueless’ and ‘Truth or Dare’,” I type, hoping to jog his memory.

“ha!” he replies, “I just watched Clueless a couple months ago."

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Night and Day

Katie and I switched shifts at the booth, her working the night, and me working the day.

She comes home at the end of her shift, it’s late, but we stay up chatting at the kitchen table for a bit because we haven’t had a lot of time to hang out for the past few weeks, so we take it where we can get it.

When it’s finally time to start getting for bed, I stand up, and every muscle protests it’s weariness, and I groan quietly.

“Oh yeah,” Katie says, “working the day is way harder than working the night shift."

Mysterious

“Did you hear something about the Met no longer being free?” my roommate asks as we ride the train into Manhattan together. 

I think about this - I did hear something about the Met charging people, and maybe I also heard some people were happy about it, because it didn’t effect them, but why?

“Oh, yeah, but just for non-New Yorkers,” I say when it suddenly comes to me from the deep recesses of my brain where the information was hiding.

A little while later, apropos of nothing, I say, “You ever wonder how your memory actually works?"

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

An Angel Passes

Even the chattering teenage girls pause in their gossip as he makes his careful way up the car. No one needs the sign he holds up that reads “victim of acid attack” to know: he is flesh dissolved and remade into new shapes, stretched stiff and taut over a brittle scaffold of bones.

The shadow of shocked silence that proceeds and follows the sight of him makes his muffled request for spare change stand out like a shout.

He moves between the cars to the next, and the girls restart their conversation tentatively, then with more vigor, like birds beginning to sing again after a clap of thunder fades in the distance.

Monday, May 28, 2018

What Have We Learned?

"Yesterday was awful for me, personally," says the beard products guy, eyes wide, "'cause all day I had gay guys hitting on me!"

"Yeah," I say, hoping to divert whatever awful shit he's about to say next, "can you imagine being a woman? They must have to deal with shit like that from dudes all the time."

"I'm not a homophobe," he starts ("I didn't say you were," I murmur), "but like, five guys saying how they want to fuck me is too much."

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Disappointment

"Oooh, this is a good song," I say as the end credits to the movie play. It was a documentary about the struggles of the fire department in Detroit, so I figure it's a band from that area.

I ask my phone to identify it, and it turns out to be "Stranglehold" by Ted Nugent.

"Oh goddammit, I don't want to give him any money, but it's a really good song," I say.


Saturday, May 26, 2018

I Know How You Feel, Man

A seat opens up on the subway, and the woman sits while her boyfriend stands. He reaches up to hold the subway pole with that same hand with which he's carrying one of those big matte paper bags from a department store, and when the train goes around the corner at speed the bag swings forward and the corner of it bops her in the face.

The bag is pretty large and kind of heavy, and it clearly surprises and maybe even hurts her a little, but since I've got my headphones on, I'm unable to hear the scolding she proceeds to give him, at the completion of which she reaches up and takes the bag from him and puts it in her lap with a look of extreme disappointment.

That look, that look of disappointment, like, "how could the man I love be so unconscionably stupid sometimes,": I've seen that look.

Customer Service

"We'll be here tomorrow from ten in the morning to nine," I say to the Russian gentleman who's been trying to get a discount out of me at the booth. "And if you show up early enough, you might get to meet Katie."

"Then I can tell her how little money I have and she will give me a good deal!" he replies, half-joking.

"I wouldn't expect that," I say, without adding because she will cut you.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Brick Wall

"That woman you left me with tonight...," I say to Katie after I get home from the booth, lying next to her on the couch with my head resting on her thigh while she strokes my hair.

"I did, I did leave you with her on purpose," she says regretfully.

"...she was really dumb, and she didn't listen to anything I told her," I say.

"Really dumb," she agrees.

Hubris

The guy at the subway turnstile is clearly a tourist: he looks down at his MetroCard as he swipes it excruciatingly slowly through the reader, and of course it rejects him, and the line building up behind him, since there's only one reader at this entrance, isn't really helping him focus.

"You gotta do it faster," I tell him without taking off my headphones, and eventually, after a couple more tries, the machine relents and lets him through.

I step up and swipe my card, without even bothering to look to see if there might be an issue, and walk right through the gate.

I promptly bounce off the gate as it stops, and the little digital sign on the turnstile reads, "Card swiped too fast please try again."

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Better Living Through Science?

"There's this new umbrella," Laura, who works the booth next to ours, says, "it's just this stick but when you turn it on it blows out air at the top and blows all the rain away." She makes a whooshing sound.

"I sort of wonder what the fail-point for those would be, though," I say. "Like, at what point is it raining so hard that it just stops working?"

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Bread

"Can you imagine if a dragonfly and a moth would like, fight?" asks the little boy with the buzzcut and the dinosaurs on his shirt.

"Yeah, but what would a dragonfly and a moth even fight over?" I ask, hoping to steer the conversation in a wholesome direction.

This seems to stump him for a second, in that blank way that kids who are way up in their own heads about things have when their patterns are interrupted and adults treat them like people.

"A piece of bread." he finally says firmly.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Miss-understood

The bachelorette party cutting a swath through the market is mostly well-behaved, but strangely homogenous looking: all of them are incredibly tall, with the same blow-out blonde hair, tight black leggings, tottering around on spike heels, and all of them are wearing the same black tank top with gold metallic lettering that reads, "Pop the bubbly, she's getting a hubby." They're all built about the same, too, like maybe they all dance at the same strip club, and even their faces have similar shaped noses and cheekbones that they, perhaps, purchased from the same plastic surgeon?

They don't seem particularly attractive to me so much as they are sort of remarkable, like I'm looking at what an alien who looked at nothing but Hollywood movies and fashion magazines would create if asked to construct a woman at a bachelorette party, and I want to talk to someone about them, but I'm not sure I'll be understood, so I try to explain what I'm seeing to one of the other vendors who's this dude who sells beard grooming supplies.

"Yeah, they're all like super hot!" he says, his eyes lighting up, and I instantly regret saying anything at all.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Automatons Touching Things

The two Indian women finish their purchase and leave with the usual pleasantries and requests that I convey their compliments to the artist.

After they leave the booth, though, I notice that the booth is a bit disheveled, and I go around tidying things up, only to find that someone, maybe the women who just left, has taken all the business cards and just sort of dumped them into the bowl of buttons we've got on the shelf.

When I mention this to Katie later that evening, she nods knowingly. "Some people just have to touch everything, and they don't even know they're doing it," she says.

Friday, May 18, 2018

Not Making it Weird

Head down, headphones on, making music on my phone, I completely miss my stop - not by a little, but by three stops.

I get off the train with a curse, but after I calm down, I notice an employee at the liquor store I frequent standing on the platform to go back uptown with me.

We exchange pleasantries, both of us friendly enough, but when the train comes and we get on together, I decide to head things off.

"Don't feel you have to make conversation if you want to listen to music or whatever," I say, and with a grateful smile he reaches for his headphones.

Hard Sell

The booth next to ours sells grooming products for beards, and the salespeople who work there seem to accost anyone, sometimes whether they have a beard or not.

Like this family - mother, father, two kids - that the salesman has buttonholed, insisting that he has some grooming product they need, whether for themselves or someone they know.

"Wait, can I buy a beard?" the small daughter asks, all wide-eyed and faux-astonished.

When the salesman grumpily admits that no, she can't actually buy a beard, she nods solemnly and says, "Mmmhmm."

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Be Kind to Yourself

"This one is my sister," she says, referring to the first of Katie's pieces she picked out, "because it's cute and small, like her."

"Now I just have to pick out one for me," she says, but then her eyes get very sad as she holds up a delicate, see-through butterfly called an Invisible Angel.

"This one used to be me, forty kilos ago," she says, tearing up.

"Well, now I think I'm going to have to insist you get it," I reply firmly.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Too Soon? (part another)

I get home from the booth, it's almost ten at night, a freak storm blew through in late afternoon and kept a lot of the foot traffic away, and I'm a little dispirited. I lie on the bed on top of the covers next to Katie, feeling my pulse reverberating through my body, tired and a little hungry, and up comes the cat, complaining about the paucity of food on her plate, stalking back and forth across my body like I'm some kind of Nordic Track for felines.

Understand, this is the same shit she pulled this morning at six A.M., and I am really not having it, but I'm too tired to really kick her off the bed.

"Girl, I will get you a dog," Katie says threateningly, and the cat turns her head to me and slowly blinks.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Losing Concentration

I play the etude on my guitar, slowly, but steadily, and making no mistakes. All the notes sound good, and I'm even playing somewhat musically, God forbid.

I'm getting near the end, and I find myself wondering if I'm going to get all the way through without making a mistake, which, my old saxophone teacher used to say, was the starting point of mastering a piece.

I get so excited that I blow a chord change, the whole thing stutters to a halt and collapses, and I sigh and start at the beginning yet again.

Drive It Like A Mother

"Well, at that Air Force Base, I think it's closed now, but there were a number of people who fly... the fast planes, jets," my mom says. "I dated a couple of them, so I knew the base pretty well, and they would close one of the runways, and the other one, the pilots would drive their sports cars on it, and that's where I learned to drive fast."

I have a huge smile on my face as I ask, "Is that where you learned how to race?"

"Drive fast, downshift, put the car into a skid, all of that," she says, obviously enjoying herself.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Pick Up After Yourself

The bag of vegetable scraps tears open and spills most of its contents into the bin at the green market, but a jumble of egg shells, banana peels, spinach stems, and other detritus scatters all over the pavement.

"Nice work, Williams," I mutter, and begin to pick my mess up as it continues to rain.

Finally, I throw the last bit of green onion into the bin where it belongs, and a woman who's been patiently waiting for me to finish exclaims, sincerely, "You did it!"

"I did it," I reply, with a smile and a shrug.

Razor Sharp

He seems friendly enough, and he's buying one of Katie's pieces for his mother, so he can't be bad, but something about this guy seems a little... off. Again, not bad per se, but just off in a way where he's clearly not altogether here, seeing something I can't see, like he's thinking about something else while he's talking to me, or like his mind is standing just a little to the left of where his body is.

Then I remember something he said earlier in our conversation, and I realize he probably works for Google, and that he's likely one of those tech dudes whose minds work on a different level from us mere mortals.

Then he hands me his credit card, a metal AMEX, and it gleams bright in my hand like a razor blade, light and sharp and almost vibrating with how good it is at what it does.

Friday, May 11, 2018

Foresight

I come up out of the subway to light rain falling from a dark sky periodically illuminated by flashes of distant lightning. The storm must have come off the ocean somehow, or pulled in air from offshore, because everything smells a little fishy.

I'm grateful to past-me as I pull the umbrella I had the foresight to bring to work from my bag, but I feel a bit stupid opening it in such inconsequential rain. It isn't until the rain starts to fall more heavily that I firm up my grip on the umbrella, and my chest swells with a strange, excessive pride.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Infecting

"You know about 'avocado hand?'" I ask the woman who works in the booth next to ours.

"It's when you're trying to get the pit out of half an avocado," I mime slicing a knife into a pretend avocado in my cupped hand, "and you miss and slash your hand."

She cringes in a satisfying fashion. "And now that's an image that you have to live with for the rest of your life."

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Inside Voice

The old man in the booth is not using his inside voice, despite his son's best efforts to shush him.

"So how do you kill all the butterflies?" he asks, despite me having said, only moments ago, that we get them after they've died, and the sign that says that we get all our butterflies from places that help support the ecology and butterfly species.

I smile at him without blinking. "Well, that's an interesting question," I say, "because it presupposes that I'm some sort of butterfly murdering psychopath."

Monday, May 7, 2018

As If That Has Anything To Do With It

After an early, long morning, the booth is set up for our month-long stint selling Katie's sculptures at the market, but it's not really worth it for me to go home and then turn around and come back to work a shift, so I decide to go to the movies.

Feeling pretty decadent, I go into the almost empty movie-house, give my ticket to the older man at the door, and make my way to the concessions counter where I find the lone person behind the counter reading a book.

"So..., is the popcorn..., from today?" I ask.

When she assures me it is, I add, "Sorry, I must have lived in New York too long if I get suspicious of the popcorn."

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Topping the Top 40

"What, are they just playing the entire '50 Shades of Grey' ouvre tonight?" Katie asks as the radio in the van segues from an orgasmic Ellie Goulding to a pensive The Weeknd brooding over depressed electronic bloops.

"Baby makin' music," I say, keeping my eyes on the road.

"But isn't it just music for like, sodomy and face punches?"

"'Soft Rock Sodomy' is the name of my new band."

Like I'm Bringing 88 Back

We wander to the other side of the rooftop bar, and stop by the railing looking up Lexington Avenue toward the Chrysler building while the headlights from traffic cascade downtown. A couple of bicyclists with a death wish weave in and out of a shimmering belt that extends as far as we can see.

"Like jewels," I say to Katie.

"Like little pebbles flowing downstream," she replies.

Friday, May 4, 2018

New Life

Traffic has started moving on the way back from dropping the doge's remains with a taxidermist in Long Island. The sun begins to set through the delicate new green on the trees lining the road. Spring has finally arrived, after a long winter, and the grief I'm carrying today seems, for just a minute, to lighten.

Death comes, new life follows - it's the same old story, but it's true, and sometimes it helps to say it.



Night Walk

I slip one arm under the doge's tummy, another under her chest, and lift her up. She's gotten lighter over the past few months, but she still feels substantial.

I can feel her heart racing in her chest, and her tongue lolls out of her mouth as I carry her downstairs. We go outside, I set her down and she shakes it off, then stands abstractedly while I put on her leash, and we trot off into the humid Brooklyn night.

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Guessing Game

The enormous dog, as big as a Bernese Mountain Dog, turns out to be a Tibetan Mastiff puppy just like I guessed.

"Do you work at the bike shop?" Katie asks his owner, and when he confirms, Katie and he agree that the dog should be the mascot of the shop.

After we leave, I compliment her on her ability to suss out where the guy worked. "Yeah, but you guessed what kind of dog it was," she says.

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Favorites

"Come on, you can do it," I tell Coco as she eyes the stairs to our front door dubiously.

Our landlord comes out of his store downstairs and laughs at Coco's expression. "If she could talk, she'd say, 'Scott, you know Katie carries me up the stairs,'" he says.

"That might be why she likes Katie more than me," I say, and Coco sighs and puts a paw on the first stair.
-----------------
One year ago: Flew In From Miami Beach BOAC
Two years ago: Ghosts of Roommates Past
Three years ago: Obligation
Four years ago: Beltane
Five years ago: Trying our Best, Being Friendly



Modern Art

The sunset is spectacular out the train window as we cross the bridge into Manhattan: a straight grey line cutting across the horizon above a band of pink shading into yellow. Katie stands at the train door and waits for the train on the opposite track to pass before she shoots a bunch of pictures of the sight, hoping to get the best shot.

"Some of the best shots were the ones between the cars of the other train," I say as she comes back to our seat with a satisfied smile on her face. "It looked like a Rothko."

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Consideration for the Vulnerable

I have arguments in my head with drivers as I ride to work. 

"Why are you parked in the bike lane?" I think. and I peer in the driver's side window as I go around them, hoping they notice my disapproval (they usually don't). "What makes you think that your parking is more important than my safety?"

"The thing is, if you don't park there, you might be a little inconvenienced, but I go out into traffic, I might die."

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Communion

I step out of the liquor store into the cool Brooklyn dusk, the tiny bit of gin from the tasting just making its way through my veins. Memories of sips of communion wine Sunday mornings, an opening of my chest, heart relaxing.

I float down the sidewalk, and there's a soft light around everyone, touching the earth that everyone is walking on. I breathe the air that touches all of us, I am a part of this world, and that's as close to God as I can imagine.

Friday, April 27, 2018

Error 404

We've adjusted the doge's meds so she'll sleep through the night - her issues seem to be primarily increasing dementia and anxiety, and she was waking up all hours, barking and whining at the terrors in her head.

She is a stubborn dog, though, and like most creatures who prefer to be in control, she does not like being stoned, so when she was halfway into the kitchen to eat the cat's food when the drugs kicked in, she just sort of sank to the floor with a whimper, and fell asleep.

"The doge melted, gotta get her back in the fridge," said Katie, hoisting Coco's limp, peaceful body into the bedroom and laying her gently on the floor.

"404, doge not found," I said.
-----------------
One year ago: Not Their Type
Two years ago: Creative
Three years ago: All In My Head

The Miracle Of Birth

"A Quiet Place" has been living up to its name, and it's been tense and engaging enough to shut up even the what-I'm-assuming-are-siblings who were telling each other to "fuck off" before the film started.

Onscreen, Emily Blunt is in the bathtub (spoilers? I guess? even though it's in the trailer but some of y'all might get salty about it so STOP READING if you're sensitive about that sort of thing) about to give birth while the monster climbs the stairs. And since it's a monster there's horrifying monster sounds and the thing is ripping up the walls and Emily Blunt is wracked with contractions and trying her damnedest to keep from alerting the monster to her presence and I'm gripping the armrest between us and my heart is pounding.

Katie leans over in the dark and whispers, "I just sort of assumed that every birth was like this."
-----------
One year ago: This Old Thing?
Two years ago: Resonance
Three years ago: Formalities
Five years ago: Sympathy For The Elf Locks

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Architecture At The End of Capitalism

Copy room at this temp gig smells like a dentist's office: astringent and medicinal. There's a couple of pieces of large wall art in the reception area, and they're pretty good, with riotous, brightly-hued squiggles surrounded by multicolored grids of dots, but they don't stand a chance against the aggressively barren late-capitalism-modern decor - white walls, fluorescent lights, reflective surfaces, chrome accents. Nothing for the eye to catch on, nowhere for the soul to come to rest.

If the flow of money had an architectural aesthetic, this would be it, a place for things to move through, like a faucet, or a piece of PVC pipe.
-----------------
One year ago: Spring Cold Prevention
Two years ago: The Acoustics of Wealth
Three years ago: Dinner Table Conversation
Four years ago: On The Boundary Between Public and Private Life
Five years ago: Eternal Arm Bar
Ten years ago: In Which I Find Out That, In Fact, It Is Not As Dire As It Seemed

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Coming Back

I'm feeding the cat - prepping the cat's food, really, while she waits with determined patience by her dish - when I notice that I haven't spoken to anyone in almost a half-hour, other than to get Katie some allergy medicine. The kitchen (bright, sunshine-yellow walls, counters in need of a swipe with a clean sponge),  gets very sharp in my vision as I sort of come back to reality after having been God-knows-where up in my head, and I start to pay very close attention to what I'm doing.

I pull the cat's dish with her food on it out of the microwave where I put it to take off a little of the chill from the refrigerator and pivot to where the cat is sitting, a little in front and to the right of the fridge, and she watches me expectantly. I bend over, holding the plate, with my other hand face toward her, and she sits up on her hind legs and bops my palm with her paw, in a facsimile
of a high-five that I taught her.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Accompanying the Aging Solider On Patrol

Katie is dressed in pajamas and boots to walk the doge with me tonight, and wearing the long overcoat she bought for me on our honeymoon in Venice. The coat is stylish and trim on me, even sharp despite being many seasons out of date and worn so much that the silk lining looks like it's been mauled by a bear, but on her it's comically huge, like the Little Tramp, I tell her, which makes her smile.

The doge meanders back and forth across the sidewalk to her favorite pee-spot, and Katie and I watch sort of solemnly while she squats and does her business. She turns around a little too quickly to make her getaway from the scene of the crime, which causes her to sprawl out completely, like Bambi on the ice, limbs to the four quarters, while Katie and I smile affectionately and help her up, whereupon she rights herself and shamble/trots over to each of her other favorite sniffing spots to read the news of the day.
-----------------
One year ago: Inadequate
Two years ago: Rich People Medicine
Three years ago: Freedom/Invisibility
Four years ago: They're Not There
Five years ago: The Cat and I Are Having Feelings

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Immortalized

In the booth at the flea market where I'm working, the woman who wants to buy the big metal sign that reads "Brooklyn" needs approval from somebody back in her home country, so she grabs the sign and me, and makes the man with her take a  picture of us. It's been a long day, but I manage a smile and then make my apologies to finish packing the truck so we can leave for the day, figuring that's the last I'll see of her.

But about a half-hour later, she finds me and hands me the money, saying, "I sent your picture all the way to Korea, and my friend liked it, so I buy the sign."

"You have made me immortal in your country," I say grandly, and this seems to tickle her.
-------------
One year ago: Oneness Into Oneness
Two years ago: Where Does Depression Hurt?
Three years ago: Mistrust
Four years ago: Flags and Bags
Five years ago: Leaking Light

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Keep Moving Morning

About a half-mile into my ride to work, I give in and put on my gloves to fend off the cold that's starting to make my knuckles ache. The streets are mostly empty at this early hour, save for the occasional delivery truck and the buses carrying people like me who've already started their day.

As I catch the downhill from 29th Street or so and start to fly past the quietest green and stone of the cemetery, I can see the Verrazano Bridge, way off in the distance, mounting up from Brooklyn and sailing over the river to Staten Island, pale blue steel against a pale blue sky. A truck at a stop light waits for me to pass, even after the light turns green, and I give a wave over my shoulder in thanks, but I never slow down.
-------------------
Two years ago: I'm Kinda The Worst
Three years ago: Fanboying
Ten years ago: Sinus Redux

Friday, April 20, 2018

How To Run A Scam

"Coco Flaherty," the pharmacist at Rite Aid reads off the prescription, then looks up at me, confused. "Is this..., for a pet?"

"Yeah, it's for my dog, she's crazy old and demented, and hopefully this'll help with her anxiety," I reply with a shrug, and she shrugs too and goes to fill the order.

If I was running a scam to get drugs, though, that's totally how I'd do it.
-----------------
One year ago: Ah, Youth
Two years ago: Sleepy
Three years ago: Turn Down For What?
Four years ago: Keep Your Vestment On
Five years ago: In Which I Find That I May Not Be As Awesome As I Think I Am

Eat 'em All

My dad emailed me about yesterday's Cheeto post, and subsequently called me later on wanting to discuss. He figured we could sell something like what they use to train children how to use chopsticks  to the snack companies, include one with each bag, make a few bucks.

When I told Katie about his idea, she said, "Yes, and then you can have a little thing on them so you can use them like a chip clip, to reclose the bag."

"But really, when you open a bag of Cheetos, you're gonna see the bottom, so I'm not sure how useful they'd be," she added.
----------------
One year ago: Stepping On My Line
Two years ago: Platform Shoes
Three years ago: I Speak For The Trees
Four years ago: Flowers
Five years ago: Angry Dance