Friday, November 30, 2018

Nice To Be Nice

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

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

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

Thursday, November 29, 2018


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

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

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

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

Wednesday, November 28, 2018


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

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

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

Monday, November 26, 2018

The Umbrella Question

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

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

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

Not Exactly Hypocrisy

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

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

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

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

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Absent Minded

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

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

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

Friday, November 23, 2018

Deeper Meaning

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

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

Thanksgiving’d Out

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

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

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

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Arbeit Macht Fröhlich

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

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

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

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

It Was Late, And I Was Tired

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

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

Monday, November 19, 2018

It’s a Legitimate Question

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

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

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

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

The Thief of Time

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

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

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

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Uphill Climb

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

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

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

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

Friday, November 16, 2018

Blowing His Mind

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

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

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

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

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Who Hurt You?

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

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

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

Hat Head of the Apocalypse

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

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

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

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Face Value

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

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

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

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

Monday, November 12, 2018

Seismic Time Slip

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

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

Naming The Ghost

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

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

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

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

Saturday, November 10, 2018

The Map Isn’t the Territory

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

Thursday, November 8, 2018


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

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

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Follow The Trail

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

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

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

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Democracy is Hungry Work

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

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

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

Shady Realtors

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

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

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

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

Monday, November 5, 2018


“No,” I say forcefully.

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

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

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

Sunday, November 4, 2018

The 1%

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

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

The cries are nearly identical.

Saturday, November 3, 2018

Positively Bullying

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

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

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

Friday, November 2, 2018

Good Game

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

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

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