Monday, December 31, 2018


Katie and I walk to the subway to go see a movie. We’re a little late so we’re walking quickly, but not as quickly as the clacking footsteps that sound like they’re coming up behind us, even though the person is so close to our pace that it almost sounds like they’re in step with Katie.

Finally Katie says, “Walk in a straight line with me,” and I do, which allows the person dogging us to finally pass, and we watch her in satisfied silence as she has to quicken her pace almost to a run to do so.

I mean, it’s not like we were walking too slow.

Sunday, December 30, 2018


There’s a bounce in my step as I go downstairs to the storage space. It’s time to inventory all the pieces we have left after our last market, and despite how boring that might sound, I’m actually looking forward to touching every piece, entering it into the database I created, creating the pivot tables that show what pieces Katie needs to make for our next market, talking to Katie about what I learned - all the work that I can do that helps my wife do her work.

And were I doing it for somebody else, I might find it less interesting, or meaningful, but to do it for us makes it seem... “fun" isn’t the right word, but “nourishing” might be close.

So when I get to the storage locker I spend several disappointed minutes looking blankly at my key ring, where the key to the lock on the door is supposed to be, because the key is currently on my bedside table back in Brooklyn, where I left it, and not here with me, in midtown Manhattan, where it might actually do somebody some goddamn good.

Saturday, December 29, 2018

Paranoid, But Why?

Our landlord installed a new light outside the front door, or maybe he changed the angle of the one that was already there, but now it shines on the curb exactly where I put the garbage and recycling for pickup on Friday nights. For some reason this makes me feel paranoid, like I’m on display to everyone while I’m shuttling our loads of boxes and bags of glass down to the curb.

I’m putting our last load of recycling out for collection when I hear, down the street, the revving of an engine. I look up and there, at the stop light, idling on the empty street, is the garbage truck just waiting for the light to change, so I quickly drop the last bag next to the two piles of broken down boxes and the dead vacuum cleaner and hurry in the front door and upstairs before they arrive.

Friday, December 28, 2018

Taking Care of Business

It’s taken me a while to get going this morning, even after doing my routine of breathing exercises, yoga, and meditation, and I’m feeling pretty unmotivated and blah, to the point that I’m just finishing up my “morning” routine when it turns noon.

Then a text comes in from our landlord - we’ve got boxes downstairs, a shipment of supplies for the business. 

And suddenly, I’m back in the swing: running up and down stairs, hauling boxes, unpacking, stacking containers, throwing things away, my heart singing with purpose and meaning as I work.

It’s almost as if taking it easy isn’t all that easy, after all.

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Minor Hubris

On the way back from picking up our food for dinner, I remember that my roommate John gave me two dollars to buy him a diet coke. I’m mentally preparing myself to go to the bodega across the street, which means waiting for the light, walking past our front door, finding the cokes in the back of the shop, during which time our fries may be getting soggy in the bag, and truly, nobody like soggy fries.

I pass a deli I’d forgotten about on the same side of the street as the one I’m walking on, and without thinking, I turn in, grab a coke for my friend, pay the man, and resume my return trip all in about thirty seconds. 

I realize I’m feeling inordinately proud of myself for my quick thinking and my ability to improvise in the moment, and I feel a little embarrassed for my overinflated ego, but since nobody’s listening in, I decide to forgive myself for my momentary lapse into the sin of pride.

The Remains of the Market

“Well,” says Katie thoughtfully. She’s standing in the quiet Christmas night street while I sit in the cab of the idling truck parked at the curb. “You could just come down here at nine tomorrow morning and sit in the truck until the street cleaner comes by, move the truck and then park again.”

“Or,” she continues after I agree, “the other logical thing to do is just unload the truck tonight."

Monday, December 24, 2018

I Know What You Mean

Walking down University Place to our storage space as the giddiness that comes from finishing a difficult but meaningful task starts to creep in.

I pass in front of an apartment building just as a couple bring their dogs out for a stroll under the waning Christmas Eve moon. One of the dogs immediately begins to bark and whine as soon as he’s over the threshold, It makes me smile.

“I know exactly what you mean,” I murmur to myself as I look up to the moon, but there’s no time to pause and reflect, since there’s so much yet to do.


“I am bringing abundance and wealth to all these booths, every one of them that I enter” I overhear the woman say to her companion as she examines Katie’s sculptures.

“I’ll take that, and give it right back to you,” I say to her over the throngs of people crowding the booth, and the two of us lock eyes with a grin.

“Would you mind if I sing a mantra to Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth and prosperity?” she says, still grinning, and, without thinking, I say yes, even while some of the other customers watch us warily.

I almost instantly regret it as she begins walking around the booth and singing to the butterflies in Sanskrit, but after a few minutes, I feel the energy around us shift, and people are really smiling now, and the woman singing the mantra walks up, still chanting, and hands me a piece to ring up for her.

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Memento Mori III

The child with the skinny head and the grown together eyebrows looks surprisingly disappointed to be surrounded by all of Katie’s butterflies, and I can’t figure out why until he opens his mouth.

“They’re fake,” he says cynically to his little brother.

“They’re real, and they’re dead,” I correct him, “but everything dies, so it’s okay.”

Is it, though?” his mother asks me.

Saturday, December 22, 2018

Asking the Real Questions

“What time is it?” I ask from my spot sprawled on the couch.

Katie looks at her phone. “About one-forty.”

“Want to go to bed?” I ask

Friday, December 21, 2018

Customer Service

As the postal worker takes the last of my packages to the back of the post office and moves to shut the door, I stop her.

“Could you please get me a receipt for these?” I ask, holding the door as her neutral face turns to a scowl.

“You should have told me earlier,” she scolds as she goes to get the portable scanner.

“She’s lovely,” I turn and mouth silently to the customer standing behind me, and then turn back with a smile to take the sullenly proffered receipt.

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Making Jokes At Work

The slices I am making with this box cutter to alter the size of this box are a jagged mess. “No way I could hijack those planes,” I say to no one in particular.

“One A.M., four days before Christmas, and the man I love just made a 9/11 joke,” Katie says, looking up from where she’s making labels for pieces to bring to the booth tomorrow. “Truly I have married my soulmate."

Wednesday, December 19, 2018


“Why are you hungry?” Katie asks the cat, who looks up at her defiantly. The two of them are at a standoff in the door to the kitchen, where the cat was fed not three hours ago.

“We have to take you to the vet,” Katie says, shaking her head. “You are too small to have that much cat food in you,” she continues, while the cat, seemingly insulted, simply walks away with a flick of her tail.

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Why, Though?

“So this woman walks into the booth,” I tell Katie while she finishes a few more pieces for me to take to the booth tomorrow, “and she looks at the sign we have up and asks, ‘Why are they safe for international travel.’”

“And I say to her, ‘Do you mean how are they safe for international travel?’” I continue.

Katie looks up wearily. “I think I get what she means, though,” she says.

Monday, December 17, 2018

Called on Account of Weather

The rain falling on the corrugated metal roof of the booth where we sell Katie’s sculptures sounds like a catastrophe, like constant, drumming noise. I talk to the customers as best I can, but my sensitivity to sound and the need to shout over the din makes it tough to create the calm, welcoming atmosphere I prefer when I’m working.

Finally, about a half-hour before the market closes, when the booth has been empty for a while and the only traffic in the aisles is a river of rainwater, one of the market managers stops by. “You can close if you want,” he says in desultory tone, but by the time he leaves, somebody has already put up a gate and closed the market down.

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Pee Break

“Okay, I’m out,” I say to the woman in the booth across the aisle from us. 

“You’re leaving?” she asks plaintively, then her face brightens as an idea overtakes her. “Can you watch my booth for a second while I go pee?”

“I mean, sure!” I say with a shrug as she dashes out into the night.

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Title of My Autobiography

Our roommate is sitting in one of the few rooms of the apartment that we haven’t filled up with various accoutrements of our business, the kitchen.

“I’m sorry for what we’ve done to the house,” I say, coming in. He looks up mildly.

“More boxes, eh?” he asks, deadpan.

Friday, December 14, 2018

Cheaper on the Margins

I walk east on 69th Street toward York Avenue on a gray, wet day on my way to the hospital for a check up. Steam exhales up into the cold from vents high in the walls of the tall buildings. I think about how all the hospitals and all the self-storage facilities in Manhattan are on the edges of the city, people putting their unwanted “stuff” out away from the center, out where they can forget about it.

When I mention this to Katie later that night, she says, “Sure, but I would argue that there’s hospitals, and storage places, closer in, and people just go to the edges initially because it’s cheaper."

Thursday, December 13, 2018


“Listen,” I say to the security guard at the market. “Those kids I thought shoplifted from my booth? They just put that piece back in a weird place, so if you see them, please don’t call the cops, because they didn’t do anything.”

“Well, the thing is,” he says with a shrug, “even if I tried to get them for something, if you didn’t actually see them do it, they didn’t do it."

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Mildly Odd

I’m trudging up the stairs with groceries in heavy winter boots, and on the second floor I hear, with every step, a single musical note. It continues in time with my steps until I begin to wonder if I’m imagining it, or perhaps I’m hearing some sort of squeak in the stairs that just sounds particularly musical today. So I stop.

Outside, a car horn continues to honk, and I find myself wondering if I was unconsciously walking in time to the honking before I consciously heard it (which is a little odd, but unremarkable), or if it just happened to sync up with my steps randomly (which is a little spooky, but only a little).

Tuesday, December 11, 2018


A clipped fingernail of a crescent moon hangs in a perfectly clear sky over Brooklyn jeweled with planes coming lining up to come home. The indigo of night shades down into lavender into a pale coral at the horizon where the sun set.

I spent many evenings in Arizona where I grew up looking at sunsets. The sky is not as warm here in the east, but high above the buzzing, bustling city, it is the same still, quiet place.

Monday, December 10, 2018


It happens very quickly: the car turns sharply, cutting across the crosswalk and hitting the woman walking there. 

“Jesus fucking christ!” I shout, pulling my headphones off. 

The car knocks her off her feet, and she lands flat on her back, lays there for a moment, and then stands up, saying in a dazed voice, “I just got hit by a car.”

“You should really stay put,” I say, as strongly as possible.

Sunday, December 9, 2018


The drunk idiots dressed in Santa Claus costumes running around midtown seem to have mostly worn themselves out, and as the sun sets, they and their scantily dressed, drunk girlfriends are making their way back to Jersey or Staten Island or wherever else they’re from.

A car passes me, and a Santa hat wearing fool leans out to give me an inebriated “Woo!”

“Woo,” I reply, completely deadpan. His look of utter disappointment gave me a warm glow to fight off the winter chill.

Friday, December 7, 2018

Putting It Down

“Ah, I gotta buy a gift for my sister,” the old man says, looking at Katie’s pieces.

“You know,” he says, after a few moments silence, as ‘Last Christmas’ warbled on a boombox nearby and the Salvation Army ringer tinkled his bell almost (but not quite) in rhythm, “she used to chase me around, yell at me, just a real bitch.”

“You know, it’s tough to forgive stuff, sometimes,” I say, “but at some point I just realized I didn’t want to carry all that around anymore.”

“Yeah,” he says, laughing ruefully, “I’m seventy-nine, and I’m still thinking about stuff from when I was seven!"

The Beagles and The Bunnies Shall Lie Down Together

(I feel like I’ve written about this before, which is sort of the point.)

I’m watching the TV show “A Charlie Brown Christmas”, the opening scene where that wonderful, lilting music is playing and Charlie Brown and Linus are walking through the snow and pause by the wall to chat, and something about the unhurried pace, the ease with silence the show has, just puts me right there, into the child’s mind that watched the show religiously, when Christmas was the most important, the most exciting thing that had ever or would ever occur. It’s a sinking in, not in a passive way, but in an open, receptive, vibrant way that allows me to see every line, every simplistically drawn Christmas tree and snowbank and doghouse, as an icon, and by extension the whole world becomes charged with meaning and portent.

And then Linus says, “Lights, please,” and in a quiet voice recites an old, old myth that suddenly sounds, not just meaningful, but actually possible, and I feel my eyes welling with tears and my heart singing in praise of a universe that actually means something, which is, of course, sort of the point.

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Picking a New Outfit

I pull the sweater out of the dry cleaner bag and throw it on. I’m already a little bit late to go in, so I’m not too concerned about how I look, but a passing glance in the mirror stops me cold.

“Does this sweater make me look old?” I say, walking into where Katie’s making her coffee.

“No,” she says, looking me up and down, “but really, it’s the khakis that make you look old...."

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Trying to Talk to the Natives

The Australians are out in force at the Holiday Market, and I make small talk with a couple of them as I wrap up their purchase by commenting on the cold, and how it’s practically summer Down Under.

“Yeah, it’s probably...,” one of them thinks for a moment, “sixty degrees or so in Melbourne today.”

“Did you just do a Celsius to Fahrenheit conversion in your head?” I ask, laughing. “You are an excellent ambassador for your people."

Monday, December 3, 2018

Move Too Much

“I had to move this morning,” says the woman working the booth across from us, rubbing her eyes. “I don’t even know where I am.”

“You know, I’ve lived in New York for about twenty-two years,” I muse, “and I’ve only moved maybe four times. People move way too much in this town."

Some Not-So-Excellent Qualities

I finish my yoga, and come in to help Katie get ready for her shift. I sit on the bed behind her while she puts on her makeup in the mirror.

“Did you sleep well?” I ask as she turns around to give me a good morning kiss.

“My love, you have many excellent qualities,” she says lovingly, “but last night you were an immovable mountain of snoring, like with roots right down to the center of the earth."

Sunday, December 2, 2018


“What do you do with these?” Katie asks about the little disks of wood littering the sidewalk to the nice man sawing yet another disc off of the base of our Christmas tree.

“You can have them if you want,” he says with a shrug.

“Aren’t they wonderful?” asks a random lady (who is not buying a Christmas tree) walking by, and as she asks she starts picking up the little discs of wood.

And even though they’re free, I find myself resenting this random woman a little, because we bought a Christmas tree from these folks, and she just starts picking up the discs of wood like they’re trash that anybody can have, whereas we actually paid for this trash.

Saturday, December 1, 2018

I Look Safe

“I was watching the news today, the early news,” says Katie, “and they were doing a story about how it might soon be illegal to Airdrop dick picks, and I thought, ‘Oh, my husband will be safe.’ They never do that to me,” she adds.

“Wonder why,” I muse.

“They probably think I look like I’ll rip their eyes out,” she says.

Friday, November 30, 2018

Nice To Be Nice

Even though I’m at a different post office, the lady who helped me the other day is here at my local one, and she remembers me. “You just dropping off?” she asks, and when I confirm, she smiles and motions to step out of line and come to her window (which is a huge thing that never happens at this branch).

You got off easy,” the guy standing at the front of the line says admiringly after I quickly drop off my package and thank her, and she explains to him that she knew me from the other day.

“Well, it’s nice to be nice,” I hear him say as I head out the door.

Thursday, November 29, 2018


After a lot of texting back and forth trying to figure out the exact length of hanging hooks to buy, we finally decide to use video chat, whereupon we discover that I do not understand exactly what Katie needs or how she uses what seems to be a very simple shepherd’s hook.

It takes a few minutes, but eventually, patiently, she helps me grasp the concept enough to figure out how long the hanging hooks have to be so that she can use her shepherd’s hook to reach pieces hanging up high in the booth (she’s a lot shorter than me), and we end the call.

I grab the appropriate hanging hooks and start to walk out to the checkout when the guy who’s been helping me sees me leaving and asks, “Everything okay?”

“Well, I’m pretty sure my wife thinks I’m an idiot, but we worked it out,” I say, smiling.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018


“So the story that happened yesterday was, I was riding home on the B train after dropping off that check for us, and going over the bridge, I got a notification that somebody wanted to share a photo with me via Airdrop, and it was a photo of literally the biggest dick I have ever seen,” I tell Katie as she sits slumped on the couch thumbing through her phone.

Her eyes widen a little at this, and she’s smiling now, as I continue, “So I laugh, decline the photo, and shut off bluetooth on my phone, but not five minutes later, somebody tries to share the same photo again! So I decline again and go into my Airdrop preferences, change it to ‘Contacts Only,’ because fuck that.”

“And I totally would have used that for yesterday’s Four Each Day, but I forgot,” I finish while Katie laughs.

Monday, November 26, 2018

The Umbrella Question

I walked to the post office today in a light rain, and nobody could agree on the umbrella question. I didn’t know about the umbrella question growing up in Tucson, because for one, in Tucson nobody really used umbrellas, and then as far as rain went, it was either raining spectacularly, catastrophically, a deluge to drown the desert and flood the underpasses downtown, or it really, really wasn’t raining, at all.

But on the street today in Brooklyn it was raining lightly, barely spitting, and some people had their umbrellas out and open raised above their heads, but a little sheepishly, because they knew that it wasn’t really raining that hard, and that maybe the whole umbrella thing was just a trifle dramatic, but once you’ve gone to all the trouble of actually opening the thing, now you’re committed, and you just have to go with it.

And the rest of us walked around with our faces getting wet.

Not Exactly Hypocrisy

I’m standing in the train, holding on to one of the poles that they have specifically for that purpose between the benches, when a guy walks by on his way to a seat and, oblivious to me, bumps me with his bag.

It’s no big deal, but I still find myself kind of annoyed, and it gets me to thinking: is it culture, or maybe just a function of living in such close quarters in New York City, that causes people to be so lacking in basic self-awareness that they don’t know or care when they invade another person's space with their stuff?

A little while later, I’m picking up stuff from our storage space, and I walk up the stairs with a bag full of merchandise for the booth.

On my way out of the facility, I bump the bag lightly against the door jamb, which causes me to wince a little.

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Absent Minded

After the market closes, and I’ve rolled down the vinyl flap covering the entrance to our shop, the rain really starts to come down in earnest. I can hear it pounding on the tin roof of the booth as I look over the shelves, counting pieces and tidying up. 

Finally, everything is in order for opening tomorrow, and I take a deep breath before turning out all the lights and ducking under the flap to lock up for the night, whereupon I am promptly soaked as I struggle beneath the deluge with zippers and padlocks and cold, wet keys. 

I finish, and stand up straight, triumphant, only to realize with a sinking feeling that I’ve left the heater on inside the booth, and that I’ll have to unlock and unzip everything and go back in to turn it off and do this all again before I can go home.

Friday, November 23, 2018

Deeper Meaning

The small-framed, wiry young man stands just inside the booth staring at the shelves for a long time, just staring. He seems stunned, almost, until he finally looks at me very seriously and asks, “Can you please show the moths that you have?”

After I show him some very colorful specimens that Katie has used in her sculptures, he explains, “I have a tattoo of a moth. ‘Cause they’re always trying to find the light."

Thanksgiving’d Out

After the sweet and spicy carrot puree, and the savory green chickpea hummus, and the warm and sweet butternut squash, and the mashed potatoes (with potato chips on top - how have I never thought of this before?), and the nutty wild rice, and the blackened bunch of maitake mushroom as big as a head of cauliflower, and the vinegary baby artichokes with citrus fruit, and the half-a-head of cabbage and and and and, we stare dazedly at the digestif menu and try to compose ourselves. I try to push the haze of wine out of the way and hold the card near a candle so my (alarmingly) fading eyes can read it in the dim light of this very chic vegan restaurant.

“We had to choose between alcohol an dessert,” Katie says when the waiter walks up with his expectant smile, “and we decided on dessert.”

“Isn’t it a shame that we have to do that sometimes?” he says, shaking his head sadly.

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Arbeit Macht Fröhlich

“I’m sorry I’m a slacker,” I say, rubbing Katie’s back with an open palm as she washes her face after a fifteen hour day (for her - only about eight for me).

“You work hard,” she replies kindly. “You will work harder this season, though - not a threat, just a promise.”

“It’s not a threat, it’s a description,” I announce cheerfully.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

It Was Late, And I Was Tired

“That guy’s got tassels on his shoes,” I say, pointing out the guy sitting across from us on the train. “Like my dad’s shoes or something.”

“He’s wearing a very nice jacket,” Katie says. “And a fedora."

Monday, November 19, 2018

It’s a Legitimate Question

I drop off the package at the post office, and the worker behind the two inch thick plexiglass prints me out a receipt while bopping quietly away to whatever music is playing through the one headphone she’s got in her right ear.

On the sidewalk out front I snap a picture on my phone of the receipt and shoot a text of it to Katie, so we both have a copy of the proof that it went out, then, after a moment’s thought, I go back inside.

“That package’ll go out today, right?” I ask the woman who helped me.

“It has to,” she says, looking at me incredulously.

The Thief of Time

The one-armed man with the rainbow flag on his t-shirt will not stop talking to the other customers.

“So when I was twenty-two, was it Nixon? no I guess it was Ford that was president,” he says to the politely nodding couple in his nasal voice that carries even over the constant ringing of the bell of the Salvation Army lady.  “He was bad, but you know, he wasn’t as bad as Trump, because Trump lies, he thinks he’s great, and he has zero empathy.”

My impatience is rising up to choke me as I try to finish up this couple’s sale, but I’m not angry because he’s wrong, but because he doesn’t care as much about Trump as he does about having somebody to talk to, and I need to talk to them right now.

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Uphill Climb

I hustle through the subway underground, late to my shift, walking as fast as I can laden down with more merchandise, when I suddenly become acutely aware of my thoughts.

Specifically, every unkind thought, every prejudice, every impatient hoot and howl of my monkey mind as I try to get where I’m going while the entire world seems indifferent to my crucial need.

She walks too slow, he bumped me, he didn’t get out of my way, he gave me a dirty look as I went by,  she’s fat, he looks like a criminal, why does a person in a wheelchair need to be getting in my way, what kind of, how dare he, what a goddamn... etc., etc., etc., ad infinitum, ad nauseam, until I am sick of myself, sick of my thoughts, tired of being me.

I get to the bottom of the stairs, take a deep breath, try to compose myself, try to calm down, take one step, start to climb out of the subway, out of the underground, up into the light.

Friday, November 16, 2018

Blowing His Mind

“The best graphic designer in the world could try to make this, and there would be no relation,” says the man looking at a sunset moth as he hikes his baby a little higher onto his shoulder.

“The process of evolution... that created those colors... also created the mind of the designer,” I say slowly, choosing my words carefully.

I watch him consider this in silence for a few moments before adding, “Not that I’m referring to anything spiritual or anything....”

“No, no, I get it,” he says in sort of a daze.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Who Hurt You?

In the shower, I mention not being able to listen to a band I’ve been meaning to catch up on, and Katie shoots back, “Well, you had time to watch that movie you’ve seen half-a-million times.”

“I’m not mad,” I say, pouting a little, “just a little hurt.”

“Did somebody hurt you? ‘Cause it wasn’t me,” she replies, continuing to scrub her arms.

Hat Head of the Apocalypse

The downstairs of the restaurant is cold, so after spending all day outside on one of the coldest days so far this fall, we choose to sit upstairs, and let the rising heat bring us back to life.

We stand there, somewhat somnambulant, and disrobe ourselves of gloves, scarves, jackets, and finally hats, and Katie says, “You look insane,” which I’m sure I do, hat head being a reality. Her hair, too, flies in all directions, and I’m sure her face, sunburned and wild-eyed, is a reflection of mine.

“You might want to pull your hair back,” I say mildly.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Face Value

The end of a long day: weary, footsore, stumbling, a little loopy, I pick up the bag of trash from where we’ve been building the booth in preparation for selling Katie’s sculptures at the big end of year holiday market, walk up to the information kiosk, and ask, “Where are we putting trash these days?”

The bearded older gentleman with the kind face who is clearly in charge, and also clearly a little over it, looks at me mildly and replies, pointing at the ground in front of him, “Right there.”

I’m not sure I’m reading him right, so I come back, looking him right in the eye, “I’m gonna do exactly what you say.”

“I don’t play around,” he says, nodding.

Monday, November 12, 2018

Seismic Time Slip

Our roommate describes a moment of time-slippage on his ride back from Manhattan on the subway, where the people around him became like the people from pictures in the past. He says it reminds him of something I’d write one of my Four Each Days about.

“New York has this very geological kind of relation to time,” I say after thinking about it for a bit. “It’s like time is sort of layered, one era over the other, all existing together simultaneously."                                       

Naming The Ghost

“Mood,” I say as the lights unexpectedly dim in the restaurant where we’re eating dinner with Katie’s father.

“Maybe you’ve got a ghost,” Katie adds, and the waiter agrees, telling us stories of things going missing every Sunday night at the end of the shift.

“What’s his name?” Katie asks, referring to the ghost, but the waiter doesn’t know.

“Well, you wouldn’t want to be presumptuous and give him the wrong name,” I say.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

The Map Isn’t the Territory

“See, it’s totally useless,” I say about the map of the holiday market.

“But you can look down here,” Katie says, pointing to the legend where the shops are organized by category, “and see exactly where you need to go.”

“But how are you supposed to know where you are?”

“That’s not how you shop, so it isn’t for you."


Her lips do this thing, kind of press together and disappear, when she’s mad at me, and right now, I’m mad too, and I’m pretty sure, though I’ve never seen it, that my lips go kinda white and disappear when I’m mad, just like hers. A fight about the wording of on this little slip of paper we’ll be giving to folks traveling outside the US with her pieces, of all things.

But when she looks back down at the computer, having had her say, I watch her, just watch her for a moment - her brassy hair pulled up in a messy knot on top of her head, the strong, willful line of her jaw, her flashing eyes, sharp and penetrating - and knowing that this woman, who brooks no nonsense from anybody, loves me now, in the middle of a squabble, and loved me before, and will love me afterwards, when we are calm and relaxed, fills my heart with deep and quiet joy.

To know that I can be mad, and she can be mad, and it’s not the end of the world, is a new thing in my experience, and I am happily amazed.

Thursday, November 8, 2018


Having almost busted in on a woman who was, thankfully, only washing her hands, I know for a fact that this bathroom door doesn’t lock, and that it’s tough to hear someone inside when you knock. But since it’s the only option, and since I have to pee, this is what I’m doing, angling my back toward the door while I do my business so that, if the door does open, the perpetrator won’t get an eyeful, though it might serve them right if they did.

I finish quickly and zip up with a deep sense of relief, but still, my unease is not completely gone. I find myself washing my hands more quickly than usual, and hardly drying them at all on a paper towel as I’m walking out the door, but the corridor is empty, and I am safe.

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Follow The Trail

After a long and desperate search for tortilla chips and finding none in any of the aisles where they should be, I admit defeat and resume shopping for the rest of my list, figuring I’ll stumble upon them eventually in my travels.

I’m grabbing eggs in the frigid dairy aisle when I hear a woman behind me say, “Put those back,” and turn to see a small boy with a disappointed look on his face carrying a bag of chips almost as big as he is. His cause lost, he trudges up the aisle, and, as discreetly as possible, I pursue him as he disappears around the corner.

I track him down one aisle further over, in the frozen foods section, with a slightly bigger girl I assume to be his sister, and she’s hoisting him up with both arms around his waist as he struggles to replace the chips back on the shelf far above his head.

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Democracy is Hungry Work

We stand in seemingly endless lines snaking around the center of the elementary school gym, ringed with voting privacy screens and ballot scanners on the perimeter, waiting to cast our votes. The older woman in front of me motions to her husband, who is all the way back at the end of the line, to come forward in the line, but when he irritatedly waves her off she explains to me, “He teaches ethics, so he’s very careful not to cut corners and things like that.”

“Well, it was nice of you to offer to bring him up, but I appreciate that he’s got to do things his way,” I say diplomatically.

“Hell, I called him up ‘cause he’s got my cookie, and I want it,” she replies with a mischievous grin.

Shady Realtors

The internet said (on three different housing search platforms!) that there’s an apartment available for rent in our building, and we know, absolutely for sure, that there isn’t, so we gave the realtor a fake name and agreed to meet them to see what was up.

We left our apartment a few minutes early and walked up the block in the misting rain, then circled back around to find a small asian woman trying to figure out the front door to the building next door to ours.

After introducing herself and and telling us she was from the agency, she assured us that this was the correct address (not our building) and that the listing was just a typo, and after she got her key to work, she took us up to the apartment, only to have yet another problem with yet another key.

As she fumbled with the lock, a woman with a confused and slightly alarmed look on her face opened up the apartment door, and told us in no uncertain terms that she hadn’t been told anything about anyone coming by, and that the apartment was not for rent, and that no, we couldn’t come in to see it.

Monday, November 5, 2018


“No,” I say forcefully.

“What do you mean, no?” Katie says looking from me to the avocado in question and back again, and then shoving it into my hands.

“Maybe,” I say grudgingly, then, “yeah, alright, it’s good.”

“You should apologize to me and the avocado,” she replies.

Sunday, November 4, 2018

The 1%

Finally, after crawling around through the bushes and semi-wild forest undergrowth of the verge next the highway in Brooklyn for a while, I realize there’s no way I’m going to get this kitten to come to me, no matter how pitifully it cries. It’s just too scared of me, and there are too many good places to hide, so I untangle myself from the thickets with only minor injuries, jump back over the fence, and Katie and I regretfully continue on our way.

Later, we’re reminded of the wet, dirty, bedraggled kitten we caught sight of in flashes through the leaves, when our pampered, camera-ready, conditioned-to-being-fed-every-six-hours-or-so-no-matter-what cat begins to passionately cry out her distress because I am several minutes late in putting down a plate of food which has been lightly warmed in the microwave.

The cries are nearly identical.

Saturday, November 3, 2018

Positively Bullying

The Austrian couple buying shirts is a study in contrasts: he is very friendly, and making entirely too much eye contact in a way that, were I not trying to sell him a shirt, would make me a little uncomfortable, while she, in keeping with many of the central European women I have encountered in my life, seems over it, “it” being everything, everyone, and every single attempt I have made so far to make her smile.

But the transaction has finally concluded to everyone’s satisfaction, it seems, and as I bag up his purchase his wife relaxes a little and idly examines the other offerings in the booth while her husband signs the screen. He then says, “I want to give you something.”

I demur, but grinning, he insists, and hands me a pen with what I presume is his name on it and the phrase “Greet every day with enthusiasm” written underneath, saying, “Because that’s what you have to do."

Friday, November 2, 2018

Good Game

The chubby gray squirrel squats beneath a fat, gnarled tree golden with fall leaves, and busily chomps away at an acorn, blissfully unaware of the black dog about thirty yards away from him. The dog moves slowly, deliberately, unblinking in his total concentration, never taking his eyes off of the squirrel, gently lifting each paw with care on each step, cautious to avoid startling his prey.

The crowd grows, watching anxiously while the squirrel, tired of nibbling, runs around the back of the tree, which causes the dog to abandon his strategy and dash around the tree, startling the squirrel into sudden realization of his eminent danger and sending him straight up the trunk to a high branch where he is at last safe from the snapping jaws of death.

The crowd laughs in relief, like we’d been holding our breath, as the dog runs back to his people, no longer a killing machine, but just a floppy black dog playing in the park, while the squirrel sits in the crook of a branch and screams tiny, enraged screams at its retreating back.

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Costume Ideas

The table at the excellently mediocre Mexican food restaurant is covered in a white plastic table cloth, but it’s by the window, and we can see down to the street where hordes of colorfully dressed children masquerade as spooks and murderers and superheroes.

Katie takes a thoughtful sip from her margarita. “I think that if you wanted to dress as the extinction of the dinosaurs, for a one person costume, you could dress as a dinosaur, and carry around a telescope, maybe wear a helmet.”

“And for two people,” I add, “one person could dress as a dinosaur and the other person could be comet, maybe with like a long tail trailing behind them.”

Entropy and Inertia

Later, after the movie, we walk out of the theater, and the Financial District towers above us in ethereal, impossibly distant light and dizzying mirrored glass. We decide without deciding to walk a different way back to the subway station, and our route takes us past the new Trade Center they’re calling the Freedom Tower.

We start walking across the intersection directly beneath its phallic banality after the crossing signal has changed from white walker to blinking red hand counting down our eminent demise, and I ask Katie if she thinks we’ll make it.

“Sure,” she says, pointing to the cars lurking almost 20 yards away on the other side of the street, noting that it would take them at least a few seconds for them to get up the speed to get to us before we managed to get out of the way.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Our Brains Work Differently

The masseuse pushes his forearms down my back with no more concern than a baker kneading dough or a stablehand currying a horse, and somehow this comforts me. I am no longer a person, not a bundle of opinions and thoughts, nor an accretion of neuroses and prejudices, so much as I have become a slab of meat lying soft and pliable on a table while a wiry asian man with a gentle smile and strong hands tenderizes me into goo.

Later at home, Katie asks me what I was thinking while we got our massages, and I tell her about how my breathing slowed, how I could watch and notice as he found each injury and tension and systematically worked each one down to dumb flesh, how I could feel my body become heavier as I became more relaxed.

I started going through the Container Store in my mind to figure out where we could store stuff, and planning where we should travel for our tenth anniversary,” she replies, looking at me a bit incredulously,

Monday, October 29, 2018

No Screens Before Bed

“Jesus,” I say, pausing in my endless scroll through Twitter.

“What?” Katie says.

“He’s going to privatize the rainforests,” I say gloomily, pointing to the news from Brazil.

“We have our own guy to worry about right now,” Katie says, "and definitely not before bed."

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Music Takes Me Back

I was on Christmas break when I was 14, and my sister was home from college. I had four tapes that I listened to all the time, two of which I had stolen from her: Simple Minds - Once Upon A Time, Queen - A Night at the Opera, The Beatles - Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, and Bauhaus - Vol. 1. I made her listen to Bauhaus, which was a goth-y, very abrasive and dark band, very not what she normally listened to, with song titles like “Bela Lugosi’s Dead,” “Kick in the Eye,” and a killer cover of “Ziggy Stardust” by Bowie that for a long time I considered to be the superior version.

On the way home from work today, my headphones clamped to my head to blot out the noise of New York subways, I listened to that Bauhaus album and thought about my sister and me sitting in her bedroom, listening to her stereo while the late afternoon Arizona sun streamed in through her window, and how she said, a somewhat surprised tone to her voice, that she really liked it, an how happy that made me.

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Canceling Plans

After a late-afternoon nap, I stick my head back in the bedroom. I’m still a little sleepy. Katie is petting the cat with one hand while her other hand thumbs through her phone.

“Instead of going to the museum, want to just stay home and watch a horror movie?” I ask, and she sighs happily.

Friday, October 26, 2018


An almost-full moon shines brilliantly down on empty streets. Katie stands in the entryway of our grocery store looking at her phone while I sit on the short, narrow wall of the church across the street, watching her.

An empty cab with its “vacant” light rolls through the light at the intersection, and finally Katie looks up from her phone, sees me smiling at her, and crosses the street to where I’m sitting.

She’s pouting, but it’s my fault, really, for mentioning french fries on a school night when they roll up the sidewalks at 11:00 PM and everything is closed.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Picking Up

I stride out from between the cars, only to pull up short with a little hop as a car I didn’t see buzzes past. I watch it go, then, after checking both ways, dart across the street to the Chinese laundry.

When I come in, Judy looks up from the table where she’s stapling little yellow tags with Chinese characters onto clean clothes and gives me a smile. I hand her my ticket, and she and her husband look around for a little while, until she laughs and pulls my laundry from the bottom of a pile, saying, “I forget you have a different bag!"

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

What’s Normal?

“Did you see what happened in there in the dairy aisle?” Katie asks me as we’re walking home from the grocery store in the middle of the night with milk, cookies, and butter, for some reason.

“I saw that woman with the dreds, if that’s what you mean,” I say, referring to the older white lady whose pile of extremely matted dreds give her the look of someone who might be homeless and possibly mentally ill, but who is, apparently, neither.

“Yes, but did you see our interaction?” Katie says. “I was dancing and she said, ‘Dancing in the aisles, are we?’ and I agreed!”

Monday, October 22, 2018

She Makes a Point

When the iridescent hatchback pulls out into traffic in front of the rental truck we’re driving, I slow down, give him a mild curse for his time, and keep on our way, but Katie won’t let it go.

“I don’t know why you don’t honk,” she says, almost angrily, as we continue bumping down the potholed Brooklyn streets.

“It wouldn’t do any good,” I say half-heartedly.

“It might help the next person, so he doesn’t do it again,” she says, looking daggers out the front window as he speeds away.


“Oh, it’ll just shatter if you try to take it with you,” the pinch-faced woman says to her friend holding one of Katie’s sculptures.

“Excuse me?” I say, picking up a piece. “Since we’ve got a ridiculous amount of bubble wrap, and since I’m pretty sure I’ve sent pieces further than wherever you live, maybe you should ask me about it before you assume things are gonna shatter?”

“I’ll take this one,” the friend says, laughing, as the pinch-faced woman beats a hasty retreat out of the booth.

Sunday, October 21, 2018


Since most of the other trains to Brooklyn are under construction or diverted for track repairs, I walk three blocks crosstown to catch the 2 home, and come down the stairs to find my train coming into the station. I’ve been at work for eleven hours, my feet are weary and my head throbs a little, but I’m otherwise quite cheerful. 

I slump down into my seat as we pull away from the station, and look out the window, my eyes sort of focused on nothing in particular. As we pick up speed, the steel pillars that hold up the roof above the platform seem to move at different speeds, the close ones whipping past the glass while the far ones flow slowly by, and for some reason this quite common phenomenon that I’ve probably seen thousands of times fascinates my dull brain into awed silence. 

Friday, October 19, 2018

Another Butterfly Story

“I think Katie would appreciate this,” an acquaintance of ours tells me while she’s stopping by the booth. “My dad passed a few years ago, and at my wedding everyone was saying nice things about him, you know, 'He would have loved this,' or, 'He’s watching us right now.’”

“But when we went out on the dance floor for our first dance, there was a butterfly in the middle of the dance floor, just sitting there,” she continues, her eyes shining. "Even my husband, who is not a... spiritual person or whatever you call it, even he said that it was something."

Happens About Once a Week

“People come into the booth and talk to me about very serious stuff,” I tell the artist. He’s got fuzzy hair and and intense gaze and a great coat with a huge furry collar which he’s wearing over what look like pajama pants. “A lot of people believe that, when they see butterflies, they are being visited by their dead loved ones.”

“Okay, but can I tell you?” he begins, and proceeds to tell a very emotional and serious story about his friend who committed suicide, and how during the friend’s funeral, butterflies flew all around his head for the entire service.

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Freedom and Beauty

“Mariposa... libre,” the older woman standing in the booth says, and as she waves her hands like a butterfly escaping a prison, the distress on her face tells the story.

I think I get it. “Unfortunately, everything dies,” I say as her husband translates my words into low, lyrical Spanish that seems to flow like a river, "but the only way we can preserve these beautiful, fragile moments is to protect them under glass.”

“Ah, precioso!” she says, the tension draining from her body.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Underground Cities

The two crosstown blocks from the booth to the subway seem a lot longer without a jacket, but I shove my hands into my pockets and breathe deeply, and I can feel my body remembering the coming cold like a sparring partner that one has come to almost like. I take the stairs down to the train two at a time and catch the L headed east.

I come out into the Union Square station, walking fast past the guys selling mangos and churros and candy, and the air feels warm, almost balmy. I think about caves, how these tunnels and stations terminals are really just modern caves, and how long it takes for the cold to penetrate down here underground, where we New Yorkers spend so much of our lives.

Monday, October 15, 2018

Commerce and Art

Guy in the booth with the flat-brimmed baseball cap and earbuds (which remain in for the duration of our conversation) stares blankly at the “No Photos, Please” sign beneath the butterflies for a while before saying, “Why no pictures?”

“Because it’s art,” I say.

“But what does that have to do with it,” he says, in dull confusion.

“If you love her work enough to take a piece of it home with you,” I say, “then you should buy it."

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Picking Up That Name You Dropped

The German man with the patrician mien and the dismissive attitude is rubbing me all kinds of the wrong way, but looking at one of Katie’s larger pieces, he brightens up a little, saying, “I know of an antique butterfly collection, thousands of specimens, that I’m trying to get rid of for a friend of mine. I offered it to Damien Hirst but he says he’s done with butterflies.”

“Isn’t he the one who carved up a shark?” I ask after I finish repressing the urge to roll my eyes all the way back into my skull. “Maybe he’ll go back to aquatic creatures."

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Is It, Though?

The woman who came into the booth wanting to fight about dead butterflies has calmed down, decided I’m friendly, and is now waxing philosophical.

“Isn’t it amazing,” she continues, “how nature makes everything so that is serves some greater purpose, like how butterflies are made for pollinating flowers?”

“It’s possible that what you’re seeing,” I say carefully, “instead of just one overarching intelligence, is really a lot of smaller intelligences, each with their own agenda, trying to exploit weaknesses and find a niche for themselves, and all of those sort of add up to a greater agenda, right?”

“That’s exactly what I mean,” she enthuses, her eyes shining.

Friday, October 12, 2018

The Dark Timeline

“And everybody on that show is best buds and they all support each other,” Katie says, referring to a TV show we watch called The Good Place, “and I follow them all on Instagram and Twitter and everything.”

“That’s the thing,” I says thoughtfully, pausing from shoveling food into my mouth for my late night after work meal. “As the timeline grows darker, the pockets of light will shine brighter.”

“Oh,” Katie says, “you’re not referring to the TV show, are you."

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Joy in Disdain

The woman who sells jewelry at the booth across the aisle from ours slides over with a conspiratorial look and says, "We see a lot of trends here, right? Well, there’s this thing where women grow their nails long and put a stone or a jewel on it, and I think it’s gross!”

“I really like people who have strong opinions on things,” I say, laughing.

“Oh yeah, I just really hate stuff,” she says, smiling.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Then He Speaks

The long-haired man with the Tibetan mandala medallion and quartz crystal in necklaces around his neck and his decidedly more squarely dressed girlfriend don’t seem stoned. They gaze at the butterflies in Katie’s pieces with no more or less starry-eyed wonder than any of the hundreds of other people who come in to our booth drawn by the metallic blues and soft, matte purples and yellows, the shimmering teals and sharp crimsons.

But they sure do smell like weed.

“The energy in this booth is very good, very different from the rest of the market,” the man says with a serious face.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Parallel Pests

Behind the counter in the booth, I see, to my horror, a mosquito. Springing into action, I slam my palms together, killing it instantly, and I grab a paper towel to wipe my hands.

Later that night, on the way home, I see, floating around by the advertisements above the seats, another mosquito, blatantly disregarding the fact that it’s October in New York, and mosquitos should be long dead by this time.

My first instinct is to send this one to hell just like I did his foul cousin, but then I imagine what I would look like, flailing about, clapping and smacking my hand into the walls of the subway car, and I content myself with glaring at him until he flies away to another part of the train.

Monday, October 8, 2018

Parellel Play

The couple coming toward me on the sidewalk stop at the unattached sink that somebody put out in front of their house, and pretend to wash their hands in the basin. They rub their palms beneath the non-existent faucet, and then flick non-existent water drops off their fingers as they walk away together laughing at their silliness.

Later, at the market, I wash my hands in the bathroom, singing the alphabet song absent-mindedly to myself. I remember the couple, and smile.

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Distracting the Hunter

He’s clearly not here to shop for butterflies, this guy, and the way that he keeps invading the space of this woman that he is clearly hitting on is getting my hackles up. When he puts his hand on her shoulder again, laughing at some joke he made, I decide I’ve had enough.

“Hey man, which butterfly were you looking at again?” I say moving into his space to get his attention. “Was it this one?” I add, handing him a random piece to his total confusion.

Saturday, October 6, 2018

The Power of Belief

“The creative God-law of the universe... is all around you and in existence for the fulfilling of your every right desire,” I read.

A man shambles into the subway car and collapses into the seat next to me. He is clearly in the middle of a nod, and he seems to be falling over in an impossibly slow spin as he tries repeatedly to clear his sinuses by blowing his nose into his hand over and over and examining the contents in amazement.

As ropes of snot congeal between his fingers before his dulled, twitching, half-lidded eyes, I try to imagine some words I could say, some action I could take that would benefit him, something that would help to set him on a path away from this catastrophe next to me, but in the moment, I can’t think of a thing.

Friday, October 5, 2018

Swiped Out

I swipe my card through at the subway turnstile as soon as the guy in front of me goes through, but something about the way he goes through causes it to bounce back and then forward again, which uses up my swipe. I stand there, befuddled for a second - there’s no place to buy a Metrocard, and since I have a monthly, I can’t use it again for another eighteen minutes (an eternity in New York).

I sigh in annoyance, and turn to make my way up the stairs and down a block to the next entrance, where I know I can buy a single use Metrocard and get on my way, when a woman stops me.

“Hey,” she says, smiling, “I’ll swipe you in."

Thursday, October 4, 2018

A Kind Of Theft

The woman selling her photography at the market has strung a chain across her booth so she can run grab some food. The chain is more symbolic than anything else, as it wouldn’t keep out anyone who was truly determined to come in, but most people stroll by without disturbing it.

One young woman, however, walks up with her friends, rifles through the rack of postcards the owner of the booth has at the front of her booth, pulls out a picture she likes, and snaps a photo of it with her phone. Expressionless, she slips the card back into the rack and walks away without a glance backward to see if anyone noticed.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018


“You seem kind of frantic,” Katie says after I arrive home.

“I’m not fra.., I mean, I did close up the booth and then have to go back for my phone and my headphones, and then when I got to the subway there was this huge group just standing there that I had to sort of weave-slash-push my way through, and then this one girl waited to swipe until the person before her went through, even though you don’t really have to....”

“To be fair, it does look like those big subway turnstiles are going to eat you,” she interjects.

“Yeah, but only if you never seen them before, and then I was going down the stairs to the L and everybody was in my way and..., you know, maybe I am frantic."

Tuesday, October 2, 2018


“I saw that thing you texted,” Katie tells me. “But you should know that on Facebook, Instagram, texts, whatever, I won’t open stuff that has Trump’s image on it, so I didn’t open it.”

“Cool, well, you know how they’re doing that Trump emergency broadcast thing tomorrow at 2:18 where he can send a text directly to your phone, so I sent you a calendar request telling you to turn your phone off at 2:10.”

“Oh,” she says, her voice audibly calmer, “thanks."

Monday, October 1, 2018

Temporal Anomalies

After about four hours in the booth, I looked at my watch to find I’d been here about thirty minutes. Time seems to behave... differently, here.

"⏱has🛑” I text Katie, whom I relieved when we changed shifts half-an-hour ago.

“For some reason, the booth has been sucked into a wormhole,” she replies, confirming my suspicions.

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Deep Thoughts

As I’m stopped at the light on a glorious, sunny, warm early fall day, a tall, blonde woman cycles through the intersection on a chunky blue Citibike, her long, smooth, straight hair streaming behind her, dark sunglasses perched on her long, elegant, tanned face.

I think to myself, watching her, “The things that we think of as ‘cool’ are often actually ‘warm.’ They’re objects, or people, or experiences, that, far from having a chilling effect, are really someplace where we want to stay, that make us happy, that warm us.”

When the light changes and I make it to the other side of the intersection, though, I find myself mulling over this thought, and I realize it sounds like a bunch of nonsense.

An Expensive "Hobby"

Katie's butterflies have clearly induced an existential crisis in this woman, as she tries to process how her boyfriend (whom she dubbed “her butterfly”) moved away to Costa Rica, where he wrote her to tell her about all the blue butterflies he saw when he arrived, and should she buy this blue butterfly as a reminder of him, since he might not ever be coming back?

“So is this a very... expensive hobby?” her friend asks in a soft British accent, attempting to deflect from her friend’s very visible meltdown.

“It’s really more of a business?” I answer after a pause. “I mean, you know you have to pay money for these, right?” I continue, both of us laughing now.

Friday, September 28, 2018


The guy seated at the end of the subway bench has some form of full-body Tourette’s, and he is twitching up a storm: arms flailing, then smoothing down his clothes, almost standing up, twisting his neck to look in seeming alarm at whatever is hehind him, then taking a deep breath and trying to settle himself before the whole cycle starts up again.

When we reach Dekalb Avenue, a man gets on, but I only notice him after we’ve pulled away from the station, because I hear music.

I turn to look for the source, only to find this recent arrival with his phone blasting music for the whole train to hear as he dances what looks like a tormented version of the Funky Chicken to some current pop hit, all the while grinning a massive, very satisfied looking grin.

So, to my left is the guy with Tourette’s, throwing his arms up in the air and flexing his torso and neck, trying to maintain control as best he can, and to my right is the dancing fool having the time of his life antagonizing an entire subway car with his shitty pop music as he dances like he’s receiving electroshock therapy, and all I can do is sigh and start fishing around in my bag for my headphones.

White Man With a Gun

The security guard walks on the subway platform with a sidearm, holstered, sure, but still just on his hip like it’s the Wild Wild West or something. I walk behind him, leaving a safe distance between us, and watch him carefully - he’s much shorter than me, squat and thick, but it’s clearly all muscle, like he’s sorta roided out, and he’s shaved his head, which makes it easy to see the folds on the back of his neck.

“I gotta start lifting weights or something,” I think to myself. On further reflection, though, I remember his gun, and I realize that if he decided to go off, muscles or no, there wouldn’t be a whole lot I could usefully do.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

A Small, International Kindness

The weary-looking, sweet man with a little bit of a spanish accent and I get to chatting while he peruses Katie’s sculptures in our booth, and when I find out he’s working with the UN delegation from Paraguay, I enthuse about my love of his countries most popular tea, yerba mate.

Upon hearing this, he confesses he doesn’t really drink the stuff, but he has some in his car that was a gift from the Paraguayan ambassador, and would I like it?

I try to tell him that I really don’t want him to go to any trouble, but he insists and dashes off into the market.

A little later, he returns with a paper bag filled with almost half a kilo of tea, and he shyly suggests that Katie and I come by the embassy, and he’ll introduce us to the ambassador, just because we have occasionally thought that if everything in the US really goes to hell, it might be nice to move there.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018


“Where do the butterflies come from?” the little boy with the shirt that reads HYPERSPACE asks as he stares in wonder at Katie’s sculptures. His dad grins and watches to see how I’ll react.

“Well, they come to us from far away, from countries all over the world,” I say.

“Farther than Ohio?” he says incredulously.

Monday, September 24, 2018

Leg Day

One of the guys I know who works at the market is waiting in line for the bathroom, absent-mindedly lifting his backpack like he’s working out his biceps and staring off into space. 

“Don’t skip leg day,” I say, walking up, and he laughs.

“Man, I haven’t done legs in months,” he replies.

“Yeah, well, don’t listen to me - I haven’t been in a weight room in, like, ten years."

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Getting It Right

Getting the first set of shelves out of storage and up to the truck was a disaster: wires everywhere from the lighting, the furniture pads falling off, pieces of garland trailing behind me. The second one was a little easier, though, and the one after that, too.

As I wheeled the fourth set of shelves down the long hallway of the storage facility under the buzzing fluorescent lights, I wished, fervently, that I was the type of person who got things right on the first try.

But then I realized that almost everybody has to try and fail before they get it right for most things, and that the type of person I wanted to be probably didn’t exist.

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Bees Vs. Wasps

The first day of fall shines like a polished penny, and the greenmarket by the park is so thick with people that the sound of them rises up into the blue sky with a hum and buzz. We walk past the booths filled with bright reds and greens and purples and yellows of fresh vegetables and the herbal smells of basil and oregano, thyme and mint as a thousand hands sift through piles of kale and chard, each of them looking for the perfect bunch.

One vendor does brisk business in grapes, and his tub of green and purple beauties is swarming with bees so thick he has to wave them away, but the bees only zip up into the air for a few seconds to settle back on the sweet delicious treats and resume sipping.

What looks like a wasp buzzes around my head, and I instinctively lean away in alarm, but Katie looks at me dismissively and says, “There are too many bees for there to be any wasps here."

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.


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


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.


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


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


“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.


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.


“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


“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?"


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 matĂ© 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


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


“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


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


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.