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


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

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

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

Monday, March 19, 2018

The Indirect Proposition

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

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

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

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Cheese It, It's the Fuzz

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

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

Saturday, March 17, 2018

It's Medicinal

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

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

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

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

Friday, March 16, 2018

Alternate Spelling

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

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

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Another Side

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

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

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

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Of Our Fathers

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

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

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

Tuesday, March 13, 2018


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

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

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

Monday, March 12, 2018


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

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

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

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

Sunday, March 11, 2018

We Don't Deserve Dogs

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

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

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

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Therapeutic Mugging

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

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

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

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

Friday, March 9, 2018

Crossroad of Kindness

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

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

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

Thursday, March 8, 2018

It Had a Good Run

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

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

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

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Mortifying Both Our Families

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

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

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

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Another Pool

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

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

Monday, March 5, 2018

Summertime Pool

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

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

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Seasonal Guests

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

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

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

Saturday, March 3, 2018


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

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

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

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

Friday, March 2, 2018

A Night At The Opera

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

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

Thursday, March 1, 2018

This Is Home

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

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