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

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Remaking the World

To the woman walking down the street with her friend, eating puffy Cheetos with chopsticks, I want you to know I see you.

Sometimes, the seismic moments of history happen writ large, across the screens of the world, in front of millions of witnesses.

And sometimes they happen on an avenue in Brooklyn, beneath a sunny blue sky, as a young woman, an innovator, nonchalantly fishes a puffy, orange, packing-peanut looking snack from a brightly colored bag with a pair of chopsticks, thereby sparing her fingers the unsightly stain of corn starch and cheese, and no one would ever need suffer messy-snack-related shame again.

Your friend laughed, but you and I made eye contact, and as you put the Cheeto in your mouth as delicately as a slice of sashimi, I knew I was witnessing something I might never see again: the world I thought I knew was gone, and a new one took its place.
------------------------
One year ago: Pause
Two years ago: All's Well That Ends
Three years ago: The Cruel Tutelage of Pai Mei
Four years ago: Adultery?
Five years ago: You Make My Life Better
Ten years ago: Making "Friends"


Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Flirty

"Do you own a car?" asked the older woman standing by the curb with groceries from the co-op while the doge sniffed around a tree.

Her hood was stuck and she couldn't get it shut, so I reached in and felt around until I found the latch, lifted it and let it fall shut with a satisfying slam.

"Actually I haven't owned a car in over twenty years, since I sold my last one to move here," I explained, wiping my hands on my jeans and retrieving the leash from her.

"Well you must have been a young one when you did," she replied flirtatiously.
----------------------------
One year ago: Undead
Two years ago: Let Me Know How It Works Out
Three years ago: Translation
Five years ago: Like Caesar
Ten years ago: Yeah, Me Too Kid

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Different Skills

"I saw that I got some on my hands," I say as I examine my ink-stained fingers while Katie bends close to the bed to scrub the comforter, "but I didn't know it went anywhere else."

She alternates between scratching the spot with her fingernail and rubbing it vigorously with a paper towel soaked in rubbing alcohol, then looks up at me with pity.

"Do me a favor," she says. "Never commit a murder."
-----------------
One year ago: Stop Trying to Make Fetch Happen
Two years ago: Relaxing
Three years ago: Getting it Done
Four years ago: Just Keep Doing What You're Doing
Five years ago: Literature Saved My Life (or at least my day)
Ten years ago: Couches and Comics

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Her Mother's Sister's Son

"So did you see family when you were in Trinidad?" I ask Charmine as she snips and trims my hair.

"Well, my whole family lives in the same town I grew up in," she says, moving around to the other side of the chair, "so my mother's sister's son lives on one side, and his sister lives on the other."

"If I look out my back door, another cousin lives in the house behind ours," she continues. "And if I step out the front porch and go like this," she cranes her neck like she's peering around the corner, "I can see my brother's house."
--------------
One year ago: Holy Saturday
Two years ago: None of Your Business
Four years ago: Brush My Hair
Five years ago: Are You Sure That Was Me?

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Not Rising to the Bait

The beefy white dude with the crew-cut and the FDNY t-shirt digs through the box of buttons at the booth of a friend I'm working for today. The buttons are emblazoned with slogans like "Fuck Trump" and "NOT My President."

"Guess you don't have any 'Fuck Obama' buttons," he says, looking up at me provokingly.

"I'm so sorry," I say, giving him my warmest, kindest smile, which seems to confuse him so badly he walks off.
-----------------------
One year ago: Good Friday
Two years ago: Facebook Disagreement
Three years ago: This Calls for Wisdom
Four years ago: The Wisdom of Children
Five years ago: Home Is Where You Don't Need to See
Ten years ago: Seriously? Fuck Darth Maul. And Muggers

Friday, April 13, 2018

Which Isn't Exactly The Same

"Well, since you're an organized person, let me ask you a question," Reina says as she drives Katie and me back to the subway station after our visit.

I begin pretending to frantically looking around the car as if I'm trying to find the person she's referring to. "I think you may have been lied to," I say.

"Scott's not really organized," Katie says, "as he's good at organizing."
-----------------
One year ago: Hidden Messages
Two years ago: Unfair Advantage
Three years ago: Under My Breath
Five years ago: Negotiating Alone Time
Ten years ago: Duly Noted

Which Direction

Dan leads me out on the old dock. Many of the weathered gray boards are missing, and as we step over them, I can see down to the dark green water surging many feet below.

“That guy built a new dock, and it just ruins the view,” he says, pointing down the shore to a concrete and steel monstrosity stretching across the water. On the other side, the sun settles down into a bank of clouds.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Intuition

"I have trepidation about tomorrow," Katie says as she sits down next to me on the couch.

I pause playback on the music I've been working on today and look at her seriously. "Is this one of your... feelings, or is it more just general anxiety?" I ask, but she shakes her head noncommittally, still looking stricken.

Later, as she's getting ready for bed, she suddenly looks at me, wide-eyed, and says triumphantly, "We have to print out the label to ship that piece tomorrow morning!"
----------------
One year ago: Learning to Distrust Yourself
Two years ago: Too Cheerful
Three years ago: The Back Catalog
Four years ago: We Made a Deal
Ten years ago: Probably Ought To Get Those Taxes Done

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Success! Or Something.

The problem with writing about sticking your hands in ice water is figuring out a way to justify doing something so completely pointless without sounding like a loon. 

The actual problem with sticking your hands in ice water is figuring out how to justify it yourself while you're doing it, because it's incredibly painful. 

I'm watching the timer tick down to zero from two minutes while my hands convulse and the top of my head feels like it's going to explode. 

I don't really know how to end this one, this is just something I did today because I wanted to see if I could.
-----------------
One year ago: One With The Pavement
Two years ago: Validation
Ten years ago: Hanging Bike

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Work Harder

"Have you taken your contacts out?"

"No," I say, sheepishly, since I clearly haven't started writing my Four Each Day, either. "Should I work harder?"

She looks up at me from the floor where she's trying to get the dog to fall asleep and says, "Yes, I think you should."

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Approximate Knowledge

"You better stay away from my greens!" I rap enthusiastically as I pull out the bag of baby spinach and baby kale for sandwiches.

"Don't ever never ever mess around with my greens!" Katie raps back without looking up from cutting tomatoes.

"I have approximate knowledge of many things," I say with a shrug, and she stops.

"Sondheim wouldn't write that."
----------------
One year ago: Isaiah 14:12
Two years ago: Time Flies
Three years ago: Timing
Four years ago: Speculations on a Past Life (With Tuna)
Five years ago: Sins of the Alpha Male
Ten years ago: Shoes

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Gaslighting

I'm sitting on the newly slipcovered couch (which has been transformed from a catclawed and slightly stained fawn color to a lovely, velvety purple) when Katie's cousin arrives home.

"Has... the couch changed?" he asks hesitantly.

"No," I deadpan, but, when he looks confused, I relent and confirm that, yes, in fact it's now a different color.

"Thank you for not gaslighting me," he says with relief.
---------------
One year ago: At The Museum
Two years ago: Daily Goals
Three years ago: Why Would That Work?
Four years ago: Disrespect
Five years ago: Share the Glory
Ten years ago: Flowing With The Tide

Dinner for Breakfast

"I'm really sorry I got tomato sauce on your shirt that was hanging on the door," I say yet again.

"It's okay, I got it out," she says. "It must have happened when one of us was carrying the plates down the hall," she adds, miming carrying a plate at about the height where it would brush against the shirt.

And that, kids, is why chicken parm for breakfast when you're really still just waking up is not always the best idea.
-----------------
One year ago: Communication Issues
Two years ago: Momento Mori (Again)
Three years ago: Back and Forth

Friday, April 6, 2018

Too Much Absinthe

I walk down the stairs, Kevin walking behind me. “And that should be my four each day,” I say.

“Your what?” he says.

But then, when I get home, I’ve had too much absinthe to remember what I was thinking.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Feeling a Little Old

I'm down on my knees, cleaning the toilet. The band on the radio is doing an interview while I do my chores, and the interviewer asks them when they really started to love music.

"When I bought Nirvana's greatest hits - the black one with the band's name in silver - I guess I was about eleven or twelve, and I didn't really understand it...."

I turn the program off.
------------------
Two years ago: May I Have Another?
Three years ago: Race Relations
Four years ago: Giant Pustulant Anal Sore
Five years ago: Mama's Boy

In Which A Life Is Saved

The tops of the buildings are shrouded in clouds, and the gray Brooklyn rain has soaked everything and leached the color out of the world. My cousin Ryan and I walk up 4th Avenue on our way to a reading at a cafe.

"Don't die," I say to him at a crosswalk, and he rocks back on his heels as a car beeps at him and plows through the intersection.

He gives a friendly, but slightly aggressive, wave to its back, and we finish crossing the street, and think no more about it.
-----------------
One year ago: Hybrid
Two years ago: Trains Are Heavy, Possibly Also Your Mother
Three years ago: Hierarchies
Four years ago: Can't Stop. Won't Stop.
Five years ago: Why Do They Still Call Them "Straphangers?"
Ten years ago: Knight of Pentacles

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

I'm Dangerous

The dog sniffs around the plastic newspaper boxes lined up on the corner, taking her time at each one to read today's messages left by dozens of Brooklyn dogs while a waning moon looks down on us, the only ones out this late.

I turn my head at the sound of quick footsteps, to see a woman walking by us, within a few feet. She sees us too and, startled, breaks into an awkward run and doesn't stop running until she's safely across the street, where she slows down to a normal pace again.

I sigh and turn my attention back to the dog, who didn't even bother to look up.
-------------------------
One year ago: What Cats Love
Two years ago: Impatience Pt. 2
Three years ago: Clouds (4 - Hedgehog Moon)
Four years ago: Never To Young To Start?
Five years ago: Lather, Rinse, Repeat

Monday, April 2, 2018

Misquoted

"You gave away my line," Katie says from her spot on the other side of the couch, and her nose is a little stuffed up from the cold she's been nursing all day, so it sounds like, "You gabe away my liend."

"I did?"

"Yeah, 'hacking the banks,' that was my line," she says matter-of-factly.

"I'm sorry."
--------------
One year ago: An Age of Miracles and Wonders
Two years ago: If A=B, and B=C, Then A=C
Three years ago: Clouds (3 - Head As Thoughtful As An Empty Sky)
Four years ago: Can't Fight What Isn't There
Five years ago: Lucky
Ten years ago: Not An April Fool's Joke

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Hacks and Hackers

"I got hacked just a couple of weeks ago," our driver says as we drive down Eastern Parkway. "Got my bank info, my credit cards, everything."

"Let 'em start hacking the banks, see what happens," he continues.

"That's when the guns come out," I say from the back seat.
--------
One year ago: "There There"
Two years ago: An Angry New Friend
Three years ago: Clouds (2 - Are You Paying Attention?)
Four years ago: Baby Love
Five years ago: Which One Is Reality, Though?
Ten years ago: And Then Comes Starbucks

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Endless

After watching the movie "The Lobster" (a dystopian dark comedy about relationships), I find myself singing a few verses of a song to myself over and over, and laugh when I realize it's "Endless Love."

When I mention this to Katie and sing her a couple lines, she says, "Sorry I don't know the duet part."

"It's cool. I'm singing both parts in my head."
---------------
One year ago: Warped
Two years ago: Ditched
Three years ago: Clouds (1 - Irritations/Pretentions)
Four years ago: Morocco - 3/19/14, Preference
Five years ago: We Are Not Entirely Understood
Ten years ago: Detoxing The Jedi Way

Friday, March 30, 2018

Undead Letter Office

I sit on the floor, surrounded by letters scattered all around me: letters from my friend Muse who moved when we were in fifth grade, letters from a girl in Phoenix whom I don't remember meeting but who nevertheless sent me passionate poems and quotes from Cure songs, letters from ex-girlfriends and women who were never more than friends, a pen-pal from Australia, notes passed in class, letters from people with whom I keep in touch and from people who will never willingly speak to me again.

"And I started to wonder, like I do," I say later to Katie as we're relaxing on the couch, "where it all went wrong, like did I peak back then and didn't even know it, with all the friends that I shared all these dreams with?"

"Then I realized that, even then, I was miserable, and thought my best years were behind me, and the problem is I've always looked backward, and never believed in myself," I continue, and she smiles.
----------------
One year ago: Truth Bomb
Two years ago: Spider Senses Tingling

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Put Them At Ease

"Looks like you're eligible for twenty percent off your next bill," says the cashier trainee at the grocery store. I'm only buying about fifteen bucks worth of stuff, though, so I decline to use it right now.

"Well you can use it through October, I mean, April 4th," she corrects herself when she sees my mild surprise. We both laugh, and I try to put her at ease by saying, "Well, I was planning on going out of town," which I realize as I'm saying it makes almost no sense at all.
---------------
One year ago: Rainy
Two years ago: Spring Cold
Three years ago: Ouija Doge
Four years ago: Good Intentions
Five years ago: Final Day Before Vacation

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Consolation

I guess I haven't been down 9th Street in a while, because the enormous pile of flowers and teddy bears at the corner of 5th Avenue kind of freaks me out, and I say as much to Katie as we cross the intersection.

"I told you about this," she says. "This is where that woman and her baby got hit."

When I point out the weirdness of the bears zip-tied to the traffic light pole or hanging by their necks from the parking signs like lynching victims, she shrugs and says, "Well, if it makes them feel better."
-------------------
One year ago: The Golden Hour
Two years ago: Workout Buddy
Three years ago: Just Needed Permission
Four years ago: In The Way
Five years ago: Raggedy
Ten years ago: His and Hers

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Asking The Big Questions

"Why are people so into butts?" Katie asks. We're lying on the floor, sort of draped all over each other, reading our old Broadway Playbills and trying to figure out what they've renamed the theaters.

"The butt," I say after a dramatic pause, "is the window to the soul."

"I suppose I deserved that," she sighs.
--------------------
One year ago: Payola
Two years ago: Go Inside
Three years ago: A Snack-ish Friend In Need
Four years ago: Have You Seen This Man?
Five years ago: The Mountain Goats In A Florida Cemetery
Ten years ago: Why I Have Trouble Decorating

Monday, March 26, 2018

Extrapolation

I sprinkle the parmesan cheese into the thin mixture of butter and water simmering on the stove, but instead of dissolving into a satiny smooth emulsion of a sauce, the cheese begins to clump into a gray, stringy tumor festering in a watery yellow puddle. An oily slick congeals on the top, and I throw the clotted whisk down on the stove.

Katie, hearing my grunts of frustration, steps in and, after she's watched the video explaining the process, convinces me to start over.

While she stands over the pan, whisking patiently, I blitz another handful of parmesan in the blender, and try not to think about all the other times I've failed in my life.
----------------------
One year ago: In The Moment
Two years ago: Fear Of Missing Out
Three years ago: Creation Can't Be Forced
Four years ago: Imaginary
Five years ago: My Wife Is Very Charming
Seven years ago: White Light In Action

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Fight The Power

"I think we're going to have to plan better for next time," I text our friends, after Katie and I agree that my lack of foresight has made it impossible for us to make it to the protest march today.

We decide not to waste the day, though, so I set up my mat to do yoga while Katie preps more materials for her art, and we turn on the TV to finish up watching "Marie Antoinette."

I wring the tension from my muscles as the French people, sick of a repressive and unrepresentative regime, storm the Bastille. The cat, lounging across the couch behind where Katie sits on the floor bent over her work, slits her eyes at the commotion on the screen, then yawns and turns her head away.
------------------
One year ago: After Party
Two years ago: Just Kids
Three years ago: Sometimes, I Am Seen As The Problem
Four years ago: Domestic Bliss
Five years ago: Hipster Vehicular Envy
Seven years ago: Then Who CAN You Tell?

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Reptilan Triumph

The turtle reaches out a slow, alarmingly clawed, webbed foot toward the stick adjacent to the one he's currently on, and, overbalanced, tips ass over teakettle into the drink, where he lands belly-up and underwater.

"Should we help him?" asks the concerned, white-haired gentleman who's been watching the drama unfold alongside us on this lovely spring day.

"We we're thinking about it," I say, casting about for a stick or something long enough to reach the little guy, but Katie stays put, carefully observing.

There's a little struggle, a few wiggles that seem to do nothing, and then, with a shove, the turtle rights himself and swims away from his humiliation to our collective cheers.
---------------
One year ago: Meet The New Boss
Two years ago: That Ol' Devil Moon
Three years ago: Shake It Off
Four years ago: Home

Friday, March 23, 2018

Contents Under Pressure

This is the last Q train of the night, pretty sure, so it's somewhat crowded and going local, and the guy standing in front of us has clearly been over-served, judging by the fervor of his burps.

The slowness of the train isn't helping his situation any, either, as his muttering becomes increasingly less "under-the-breath," and more "aggressive, foul-mouthed-guy-talking-to-himself," so of course Katie and I start making fun of him the meaner and angrier he gets.

His latest enraged round of "just fucking go, fucking go," when the train pauses for a moment between stations brings a round of laughter from us, which brings us to his rather limited attention, and he sullenly moves to the other side of the train.

As soon as the train stops at our station, though, he dashes off, just behind us, and barely makes it to the trash can before throwing up.
----------------
One year ago: A Thousand Cuts
Two years ago: Manners
Three years ago: Delicate Gentlemen

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Manhole Fire

The streets are quiet, and almost entirely empty of cars, which makes the single police SUV guarding the police tape stretched across the intersection especially haunting. Its red and blue flashing lights spin through the dark, illuminating the falling snow and bouncing off the silent buildings lining the icy street.

By the time we make it over to the corner opposite where Katie is talking to the cop, the doge has had enough clambering through the snow, and I have to pick her up to cross the street.

"Their just babysitting the manhole fire," Katie says, joining us and gesturing to the fire trucks parked halfway up the block, while smoke, punctuated by the occasional pop and burst of light, pours from the manhole a dozen or so yards away.
----------------
One year ago: Splitting No Hairs
Two years ago: Tough Guy
Three years ago: Go To Sleep
Four years ago: On Vacation
Five years ago: Donut Danger
Seven years ago: Nothing Can Be Okay, Too

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Human in the Machine

"Printer error," reads the self-checkout screen as we walk up, but before we can do anything, an employee of the store comes up to take care of it. She doesn't look at us, no eye contact at all, she just swipes a card across the scanner, punches a few buttons on the screen, spools out the receipt, and swoops out again. It's almost like she's just a part of the machine itself, a mechanical mechanic - not that she's inhuman, just... something else.

We go home and watch the new Blade Runner movie.
-----------------
One year ago: Sick of Yourself
Two years ago: Back in the Saddle
Three years ago: Go to Sleep
Five years ago: Snapshots From An Evening Walk

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Dyscalculia

I can't make any sense of this spreadsheet. It's 7:30 and my stomach is sour and we've been working on taxes all day, and just when we thought we were done, these goddamn numbers just won't, add, up. 

Katie raises her hands to her cheeks, like Munch's The Scream or a slasher-movie queen about to give vent to an unhinged shriek, and then stops. 

"I really cannot do this anymore today," she says semi-calmly, slowly lowering her hands and placing them, palms-down, flat on the table.
------------
One year ago: Sunshine Yellow
Two years ago: A Poetics of Politics
Three years ago: The Best I Could Do

Monday, March 19, 2018

The Indirect Proposition

The couple sits down next to us on the subway home. She pulls out her phone, and he pulls out a hardback book bound in dark blue leather with gold edging on the pages and the title in gold letters: Think And Grow Rich.

After leafing through the pages he finds what he's looking for and shows her a chapter entitled "The Mystery of Sex Transmutation."

"This is the thing I was telling you about the other night," he says, while she nods and thumbs through her phone disinterestedly.
----------------
One year ago: No Sell Out

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Cheese It, It's the Fuzz

The SUV rumbles up the path on the edge of the meadow. "Uh oh," Katie says from our spot on the park bench where we've been watching the kids and dogs and joggers beneath a pale blue, cloudless sky. 

"Your dog has to be on a leash," the speaker on the top of the vehicle blares. When the woman in the meadow throws the ball again, sending her dog sprinting over the hills, the voice comes back on, exasperated now: "The lady sitting down, throwing the ball, by the tree - your dog has to be on a leash."
-------------------
One year ago: Indirect
Three years ago: They Stay The Same Age
Five years ago: Wasted Years
Ten years ago: Differently Abled

Saturday, March 17, 2018

It's Medicinal

"Weren't you in earlier?" the woman behind the counter at the deli says.

"Yeah, but we only discovered we were out of coffee just now," I explain.

"You're going to drink coffee now?" she says incredulously, looking up at the clock.

"Well, if she don't have coffee, she don't get up."
------------------
One year ago: Blood
Two years ago: Kids These Days (Bike Shop Mix)
Three years ago: Digging For Copper
Four years ago: An Auspicious Start
Five years ago: Glooooom

Friday, March 16, 2018

Alternate Spelling

"Now is that 'Coco' with a 'C' or a 'K'?" the receptionist at the vet's office asks as she types. "I have to ask," she adds, seeing my confusion. "You never know what people will do."

"Like they could put an 'a' on the end, like chocolate," I joke, almost instantly regretting it.
------------
One year ago: Hypocrisy
Two years ago: Hard to Stomach
Three years ago: Talking Back to Showtime (cont'd)
Five years ago: Honesty is the Best

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Another Side

The picture on my phone swings from the small white dog with the shamrock bandana to the smiling face of my father.

"You know he's turning eighty his next birthday," my mother says, off camera, and this causes him to nod happily.

"I like telling the other guys I play pickleball with that I'm eighty," he says, still grinning. "They go 'whoa!' and then I've got 'em."
-----------------
One year ago: Blizzard Travails
Two years ago: Eat Something
Three years ago: One At a Time
Four years ago: Practicing
Five years ago: Nothing Happens Without Something Else Happening (no blame)

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Of Our Fathers

"Well, maybe the comics-guy can tell us what's up," I say to Katie's cousin Ryan after this inexplicable post-credits teaser in the Marvel movie we're watching finishes.

This isn't totally from left-field, since he writes for a comics website, so if anybody in the room would know, it'd be him, but somehow the tone of my question seems to ring as a bit too aggressive in my ears. He shrugs, it's fine, but I immediately recognize one of the ways my father used to talk: jocular, yet somehow belligerent, like I mean to be funny, but I just come off as angry.

The cliche is we turn into our fathers, but it's still weird to see it in action.
------------
One year ago: No Sense Of Snow
Two years ago: Boundary Issues
Three years ago: Physical Exertion
Four years ago: Cyclical
Five years ago: Finding Ourselves In A New Room

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Teething

"Ow! Hey, those are my fingers," Katie says, pulling her hand away from the dog's mouth.

"This is how hard she bit me," she says, taking my reluctant hand and gnawing on my knuckles with slightly more pressure than a teething baby.

Later, as I write this, I consider that we really aren't interacting with a lot of people besides each other.
--------------
One year ago: Misread
Two years ago: Putting the "Fun" in Fundraising
Three years ago: Sick
Four years ago: Memories and Grudges
Five years ago: But Really, What Do I Know?
Ten years ago: Fragments

Monday, March 12, 2018

Apocalyptext

My anxiety mounts as I reach the front of the line at Trader Joe's and Katie still hasn't returned, when the bored young man leaning against the barrel directs me to a register.

I'm furiously texting Katie in response to her queries, ending with "Register 24 - Hurry," as the (also bored) cashier scans and bags my frozen tuna burgers and frozen tamales.

Finally, just as he bags my last item, Katie appears, arms laden with treasures and a giant, breathless smile on her face.

"These are some pretty end-of-the-world texts," Katie says, checking her messages.
-----------------
One year ago: Still Winter
Two years ago: Spring Looks Delicious
Three years ago: Normal
Four years ago: The Art of the Deal
Five years ago: Some People Shouldn't Be In Customer Service, Or In Public

Sunday, March 11, 2018

We Don't Deserve Dogs

There's a coughing screech from the living room, followed by hysterical laughter. I dash back down the hall to find Katie, face red, laughing so hard she's starting to choke, still lying on the floor where I left her, with the doge standing over her, tongue hanging out, a not so bright look on her face.

"The dog dragged her tongue through my mouth," Katie says once she's able to get a word out, as the dog begins to circle the room yet again.

"I'll get you a glass of water," I say, heading down the hall after I catch my breath.
------------------
One year ago: Different Times
Two years ago: Uncharitable Charity
Four years ago: Reincarintersection

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Therapeutic Mugging

"You ever get really high?" the kid behind us in the booth at the pizza place says, a little too loudly, clearly in an effort to impress his friends.

"I remember my first beer," I say at the same time Katie's eyes widen and she says, "We should mug that kid."

My face must have held a bit of judgement, as she quickly backtracks. "We'd give him his stuff back right away, I would just want to see the expression on his face.

-----------------------------
One year ago: Port of Called Out
Two years ago: Heckling
Four years ago: That's MY Problem
Five Years ago: Moving The House - Tourette's Style
Ten years ago: Liminal


Friday, March 9, 2018

Crossroad of Kindness

"You know what, Mike?" the kid in the hoodie says to his grinning friend. "I got you."

We pass them, and before we turn to head up Seventh, a smiling dog and his owner cross our path, and the dog gives us a solid wag in greeting before they continue on their way.

"That was a super friendly corner," I remark to Katie as she takes my hand.
---------------
One year ago: International Women's Day
Two years ago: Bum Skier
Three years ago: I Get It
Four years ago: I'd Know
Five years ago: Ray IS a Persuasive Dude


Thursday, March 8, 2018

It Had a Good Run

The streets and sidewalks are thick with ice and snow, but I walk without fear because I know the winter boots Katie bought me years ago are more than up to the task. Even the gutters, choked as they are with slush and dirty water, present no difficulty, and I step from the curb with a confident stride into the middle of a puddle.

...and immediately my heart fills with dread as my boot fills with water, soaking in cold and soggy at the heel, sousing the felt liner with sad and wet.

When I get home, I examine the culprit, only to find the heel completely worn out and torn away from the sole, ruinous and unfixable.
-------------------
One year ago: Rising
Two years ago: What a Ham
Three years ago: First Time On The Slopes
Ten years ago: Settling In

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Mortifying Both Our Families

Thankfully, the exact moment I realize I don't have a bag to pick up the poop the doge is making, my downstairs neighbor shows up with his dog, and I ask him if he's got a spare.

"We'll just double up," he says graciously, using the one bag he's got to scoop up the doge's poop. "It's like we're sharing a condom, or something."

Laughing, I admit that's the most disgusting thing I've heard today, and he acknowledges my compliment as he walks a way with a shouted, "Success!"
------------
One year ago: Weapon of Choice
Two years ago: I Was Thinking Email Addresses, For Starters
Three years ago: First Night In Vermont
Four years ago: Rhetorical
Five years ago: Selling The Couch, Part II
Ten years ago: Where My Demons At?

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Another Pool

Up the trail past the third bridge, a little north of where the sound of water gets louder as it tumbles over rocks into a deep gorge, I clamber down a short, icy incline to the water’s edge. The snow was pristine and crunchy all the way here, marred only by the occasional deer or rabbit track, so I know I’m alone, but I still check up and down the trail for anyone as I strip down to the bathing suit I wore underneath my snow pants.

The sandy shore of the river freezes the bottoms of my feet as I breathe deeply and calm my mind, but the pain is nothing compared to the shock of cold that slams into me as I step into the near freezing water and sit down in it. I feel my feet go utterly numb, my hands too, and my head feels like a balloon, while the thick frigid water flows gently by and a few stray snowflakes drift down from a pearly gray sky.

Monday, March 5, 2018

Summertime Pool

On the other side of the road is a path, right next to the guardrail, that leads down to the stream. The sky is matte gray and sleet pebbles the black asphalt white as I carefully make my way over icy stones to the burbling water below.

A few falls chatter upstream, but all of them lead to this deep green pool. A white rock pokes its head above the surface, its bulk disappearing into the green murk, and I stand in the quiet, listening to the sleet dust the trees and imagining kids jumping off this rock to splash in this pool, in a summertime that seems forever away.

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Seasonal Guests

The folks without kids stay up a little bit longer, but eventually we all head to bed, weary from a day of travel, and the Vermont cabin where we’re all staying goes quiet for the night.

In our bedroom as Katie and I get ready for bed, a handful of ladybugs who’ve apparently sheltered here from winter’s chill make an exodus from the base of the ceiling fan where they’ve been hiding. A single spider and I watch them scatter across the ceiling beams with a dispassionate eye.

“Don’t fall into my mouth, or you might get eaten” Katie says to the ceiling, before we turn out the light.

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Self-Deprecation

The snow that covered my glasses on the way to the store melts while I wait in line, making my vision blurry,

"Glasses aren't great in snow," I say to the cashier, but when I try to clean the lenses on my shirt tail, I  end up wiping them on my wet jacket, which just makes everything worse.

"Of course, I'd probably be having less trouble if I was a little smarter," I add.

"Oh, come now," says the now visibly uncomfortable cashier as she rings up my purchase.
------------
One year ago: Clickhole
Two years ago: Nostalgia Trip
Three years ago: Brief Encounter
Four years ago: Boundaries
Five years ago: Brother Paul


Friday, March 2, 2018

A Night At The Opera

The woman sitting in front of us in the box at Carnegie Hall may be into opera, but she is clearly no fan of 20th Century atonal music. The first stabs of dissonance from the orchestra leave her shaking her head in absolute negation of what she's hearing, and the chorus trading syllables across vast intervalic gulfs does nothing to help her mood.

As the percussion thunders, rattles, and booms, and the orchestra riffles through the chromatic scale like a drunken man searching through his pockets for his keys, Katie leans over to me. "That woman regrets every decision in her life that brought her here," she whispers.
---------------
One year ago: Sicker Than I Thought
Two years ago: Dishwasher Epiphany
Three years ago: Near Miss
Four years ago: Wars and Rumors of Wars
Five years ago: Dressing Up And Annoying The Neighbors

Thursday, March 1, 2018

This Is Home

On the other end of the couch, Katie peers intensely into the depths of her phone as she composes an email. I get to watch her while she thinks, while a small furrow of concentration deepens between her eyebrows.

The overhead light catches coppery gold highlights in her red hair, and I lay back against the arm of the couch. My chest rises and falls with each breath I take, and feel the soft heavy mammal of my body warm and calm with gratitude.
-------------------
One year ago: Sympathy
Two years ago: Shout Out to My Dead Cat Honey - The Angriest Cat in the World
Three years ago: Growing Up
Four years ago: Fashion
Five years ago: I Spoiled It

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Getting the Shaft

We come down the escalator after the movie to the mezzanine, where we pause in our conversation while Katie peers through the clear elevator doors on the far wall.

The light makes the thick plastic glow purplish-pink. We can see up the elevator shaft three stories to the top floor, and down another two stories to the ground.

"Ooooh," Katie says, and I feel a little thrill of vertigo as stare down the long emptiness to the ground.
-----------------
One year ago: Moving Day
Two years ago: Pagans
Three years ago: That Turned Dark Rather Quickly
Four years ago: Extremes
Five years ago: Hypochondria

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Mnemonic Key

I do the cycle of pockets one last time before I really start to panic: right, then left jacket pocket, then right and left jeans pocket, then back pockets. No key.

After checking under the truck, then retracing my steps, I head downstairs to the storage space, my mind racing with paranoid imaginings where someone has picked up the key to our rented truck and is just waiting for me to walk away so they can steal it.

My anxiety must show on my face, because when I ask Katie if she has the key, she pulls it out slowly with a slightly pitying look, and I simultaneously remember that I gave it to her not more than fifteen minutes ago.
--------------
One year ago: Vindicated
Two years ago: Objection: Leading The Witness
Three years ago: Fail Better
Four years ago: Maternal Wisdom
Five years ago: You Spend a Third of Your Life In Bed

Monday, February 26, 2018

The Fog Makes Everything Creepy

The fog halos the streetlights as the dog jigs sideways down the sidewalk for her last walk of the night. The streets are empty, except for this guy who crosses the street in the middle of the road to walk past me and doge.

My limbic system immediately goes on high alert, and I grab my keys and put on my mean face. The doge sniffs a tree unconcernedly as the man passes within a few feet of me on the otherwise uninhabited street, and we walk to the front door, unmolested.
-----------
One year ago: Floating
Two years ago: First Impressions
Three years ago: Looks at Books
Four years ago: The Homestead Inside

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Kudzu

"This biologist came into the booth today," I tell Katie as we're sitting on the stools at the kitchen table. "He deals with, like, invasive species, and I did not," I say raising a finger pointedly, "talk about kudzu, and talked about invasive Argentinian red ants instead." 

"Good job," she says, "but kudzu isn't an invasive species."

I just figured everyone talked about kudzu, and he probably was tired of hearing about the one invasive species everybody thought they knew about.
---------------------
One year ago: Remora
Two years ago: Alone Together
Four years ago: Dinner And A Show
Five years ago: Not That Different

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Not Leaving

March, Katie and I have agreed, is gonna be us hanging out, watching movies, and deep-cleaning the house of the devastation we have wrought upon it for the last several months as we've gotten her business off the ground. 

Trudging up the stairs after the doge's last walk of the night (she clambering awkwardly up in front of me, one laborious step at a time), I imagine, for instance, taking up all the rugs in the apartment and scrubbing the wooden floors that lie concealed beneath to a warm golden glow.

This satisfying image gives way to a further image of the rugs, gone, and all the furniture too, and everything out of the apartment to the bare white walls, the way it would look if we were moving out. The very idea of leaving this place (something we have no intention of doing) fills my heart with a heavy, wet sadness, and I have to pause at the door to let it settle before going inside to get ready for bed.
---------------
One year ago: Encouragement
Two years ago: The New Technique
Three years ago: Drunk and Cold
Four years ago: Worst Cabbie Yet

Friday, February 23, 2018

Morning Argument

She's furiously texting, walls of blue scrolling up the screen, interrupted only by small, pleading gray replies. "I deff don't need compliments but I can't handle when you" too far and fast for me to follow over her shoulder.

I adjust my grip on the subway pole. She stabs "send," turns the screen off, and clutches it to her chest, knuckles whitening.
-------------------
One year ago: Self Talk
Two years ago: She Learned It From Me?
Three years ago: I'm No Cary Grant
Five years ago: I Don't Actually Wear Cologne
Seven years ago: Barbaric Meo-awp
Ten years ago: Wii Would Like to Play (With Your Balls)

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Beats An Office

"I'm losing track of days," I tell Katie at the end of my twenty-fourth straight day at the booth. The cop on TV discusses how to tell if a prostitute in Vegas is dealing drugs.

"Well, a lot of office workers thought yesterday was Monday too, because of the long weekend," Katie says, peering out at me from where she's laying underneath a flannel blanket.

"Same, but without the despair," I say, nodding.
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One year ago: General vs. Specific
Two years ago: Becoming Something Beautiful
Three years ago: Another Long Walk Through Winter
Four years ago: Spite
Five years ago: She Said It Would Be Cold
Ten years ago: This Old, Cold World

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Somebody Had to Start The Fire

The woman gets up from her table and, in putting on her jacket, nearly knocks over my drink. The hostess quickly assesses the situation, quietly slips over and, with a few deft adjustments, secures the safety of our drinks and makes sure the lady's jacket doesn't get wet.

We exchange glances, the hostess and I, and in response to her apologetic eye-roll I mime placing the oblivious woman's still dangling sleeve over the candle and setting it alight.

"Like that Billy Joel song, except you did," the hostess says, laughing.
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One year ago: Winter Takes a Holiday
Two years ago: Like This
Three years ago: Unfair
Four years ago: Mysophobia is Occasional Common Sense
Five years ago: Stand Clear

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Bleed Through

"I spent a lot of time on Twitter today," I tell Katie as we sprawl exhausted on the couch at the end of the day. "I might have cursed this one guy to baldness when he gets older."

We watch the couples dance across the ice on TV, and I find myself picking at tiny little mistakes, and feeling a sort of exhausted, dark pleasure at cleverly pointing them out.

"You seem a little mean today," Katie finally says with a concerned look in her eyes.
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One year ago: Winter Takes a Holiday
Two years ago: Like This
Three years ago: Unfair
Five years ago: Stand Clear

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Staying In Touch (With My Feelings)

"Are we FaceTiming?" my Dad shouts over the phone after he picks up, and so I pull the device away from my ear and punch the button that brings up his friendly face on my screen. I'm lying back in my bed, and I adjust my pose a little in the tiny inset picture of me on the screen to minimize my weak-ish chin.

"Why are you cheeks so red?" he asks, still smiling.

"Oh, I'm just mad about something," I say, realizing, as I say it, that that inconsiderate email I read right before I called them must have gotten to me more than I thought.
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One year ago: Forgotten
Two years ago: Relief
Five years ago: Be Willing to be Boring

Something/Nothing

"Why does the dog hate me drying her off so much?" I ask, semi-rhetorically, as the dog leaps and squirms out from underneath the Shamwow™.

"She hates anything that wasn't her idea," Katie says casually from the couch in the family room where she's watching the Olympics, "which means she basically hates everything."

"Like something divided by zero," I say, while the dog staggers off down the hall, leaving uneven wet paw prints scattered across the carpet.

"The doge is the something," Katie agrees.
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Two years ago: What's Good For Me
Five years ago: Maybe That's It

Saturday, February 17, 2018

That Explains That

Through my headphones, over the music, I hear a heavy thud like the sound of someone pounding on a door, and I quickly look down the train, to find a woman at the other end of the car picking up her large old fashioned umbrella which she's just dropped.

That explains that; I go back to my music and staring out the subway window as we pass over Manhattan Bridge into Brooklyn.

Suddenly, a floral, medicinal scent, definite but difficult to identify, faintly reaches my nose, and I again scan the car to try to locate its source, only to find the same woman who dropped her umbrella now vigorously rubbing hand sanitizer into her palms.

From behind her head and back pops a chubby little set of arms and legs, and I see that she's toting around a little one in a baby carrier, so I guess that explains the hand sanitizer, too.
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Two years ago: Willful
Three years ago: Another Dog Post
Seven years ago: Bathroom Humor
Ten years ago: A Cry For Attention

Friday, February 16, 2018

Small World

She pushes onto the train, though no one is in her way, and right up beside me where I'm holding on to the pole, utterly indifferent to my personal space. The train has plenty of room where she might stand, but she's already put down her grocery bags and is intently perusing her magazine practically up against me in the shadow of my arm.

My annoyance subsides, though, when I really look at her: she's under five feet tall, super tiny, really. It must be incredibly hard to be short in a big city, and she probably thinks she's just doing whatever she needs to do to survive, pushing her way through an indifferent world.
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One year ago: That Old Chestnut
Two years ago: The Ravages of Time
Three years ago: Dog Pee
Four years ago: The Vagaries of Time
Five years ago: Screaming Goats and The Wheel of Karma