Saturday, July 14, 2018

Uninspired

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

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


Wait Lifting

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

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

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Lillies Need Sunshine

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

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

SOS

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

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

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

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Contradictions

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

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

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

Monday, July 9, 2018

Finished

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

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

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

Side Effects

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

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

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

Saturday, July 7, 2018

For Display Only

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

“No, sorry,” she says, shrugging.

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

True Love

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

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

Friday, July 6, 2018

Allegedly

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

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

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

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Attitude

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

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

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

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Heat Death of the Universe (NYC Edition)

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

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

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

Monday, July 2, 2018

Avocado Lottery

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

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

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

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Those We Love

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

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

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

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

Saturday, June 30, 2018

It’s All In The Attitude

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

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

Emotional

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

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

Friday, June 29, 2018

Saved by Serifs

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

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

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

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Memory Loss

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

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

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

Wasted Effort

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

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

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

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

Monday, June 25, 2018

Back to our Regularly Scheduled Program

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

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

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

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Mom Is Independent

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

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

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Midsummer Lights

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

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

Philosophy

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

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

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

“Very philosophical,” my mother says thoughtfully.


Thursday, June 21, 2018

Young Married Couples

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

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

“I nearly died!” she exclaims.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

What We Think Is Funny

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

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

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

“Again!” says Katie cheerfully.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

One Hundred Twenty-Five Steps

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

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

Called On Account Of

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

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

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

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Charmed, I’m Sure

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

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

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

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Sleepy Time

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

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

Friday, June 15, 2018

Night Music

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

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

Beacon

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

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

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

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Gentrification

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

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

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

His Face

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

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

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

Monday, June 11, 2018

Power Up

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

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

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

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

Iodinated Contrast

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

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

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

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

Sunday, June 10, 2018

From the Mouths of Children

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

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

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

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

Saturday, June 9, 2018

I See

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

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

Friday, June 8, 2018

Her Arsenal

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

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

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

Thursday, June 7, 2018

They’re Going to Find Out

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

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

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Literally The Least We Could Do

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

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

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

He’s Optimistic Things Will Get Worse

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

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

Monday, June 4, 2018

Parting Gifts

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

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

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

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

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Distracted

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

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

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

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

Friday, June 1, 2018

Unselective Memory

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

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

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

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Night and Day

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

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

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

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

Mysterious

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

An Angel Passes

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

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

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

Monday, May 28, 2018

What Have We Learned?

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

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

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

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Disappointment

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

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

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


Saturday, May 26, 2018

I Know How You Feel, Man

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

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

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

Customer Service

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

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

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

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Brick Wall

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

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

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

"Really dumb," she agrees.

Hubris

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Better Living Through Science?

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

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

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Bread

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

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

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

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

Monday, May 21, 2018

Miss-understood

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

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

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

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Automatons Touching Things

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

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

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

Friday, May 18, 2018

Not Making it Weird

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

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

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

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

Hard Sell

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Be Kind to Yourself

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Too Soon? (part another)

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

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

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

Monday, May 14, 2018

Losing Concentration

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

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

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

Drive It Like A Mother

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

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

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

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Pick Up After Yourself

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

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

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

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

Razor Sharp

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

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

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

Friday, May 11, 2018

Foresight

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

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

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Infecting

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

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

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

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Inside Voice

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

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

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

Monday, May 7, 2018

As If That Has Anything To Do With It

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

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

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

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

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Topping the Top 40

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

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

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

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

Like I'm Bringing 88 Back

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

"Like jewels," I say to Katie.

"Like little pebbles flowing downstream," she replies.

Friday, May 4, 2018

New Life

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

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



Night Walk

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

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

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Guessing Game

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

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

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

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Favorites

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

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

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



Modern Art

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

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

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Consideration for the Vulnerable

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

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

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

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Communion

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

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

Friday, April 27, 2018

Error 404

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

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

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

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

The Miracle Of Birth

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

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

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

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Architecture At The End of Capitalism

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

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

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Coming Back

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

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

Monday, April 23, 2018

Accompanying the Aging Solider On Patrol

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

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

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Immortalized

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

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

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

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Keep Moving Morning

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

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

Friday, April 20, 2018

How To Run A Scam

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

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

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

Eat 'em All

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

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

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

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Remaking the World

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

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

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

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


Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Flirty

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Different Skills

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

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

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

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Her Mother's Sister's Son

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

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

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

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Not Rising to the Bait

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

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

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

Friday, April 13, 2018

Which Isn't Exactly The Same

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

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

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

Which Direction

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

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

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Intuition

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

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

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

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Success! Or Something.

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Work Harder

"Have you taken your contacts out?"

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

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

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Approximate Knowledge

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

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

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

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

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Gaslighting

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

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

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

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

Dinner for Breakfast

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

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

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

Friday, April 6, 2018

Too Much Absinthe

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

“Your what?” he says.

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

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Feeling a Little Old

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

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

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

In Which A Life Is Saved

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

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

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

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

I'm Dangerous

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

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

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

Monday, April 2, 2018

Misquoted

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

"I did?"

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

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

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Hacks and Hackers

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

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

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

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Endless

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

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

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

Friday, March 30, 2018

Undead Letter Office

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

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

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

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Put Them At Ease

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

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

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Consolation

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

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

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

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Asking The Big Questions

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

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

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

Monday, March 26, 2018

Extrapolation

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

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

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

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Fight The Power

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

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

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

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Reptilan Triumph

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

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

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

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

Friday, March 23, 2018

Contents Under Pressure

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

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

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

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

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Manhole Fire

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

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

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

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Human in the Machine

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

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

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Dyscalculia

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

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

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

Monday, March 19, 2018

The Indirect Proposition

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

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

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

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Cheese It, It's the Fuzz

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

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

Saturday, March 17, 2018

It's Medicinal

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

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

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

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

Friday, March 16, 2018

Alternate Spelling

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

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

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Another Side

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

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

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

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Of Our Fathers

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

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

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