Thursday, April 18, 2019

Public/Private

The line at the post office is predictably long, but everyone is being patient and quietly waiting their turn without complaint.

One woman, however, has decided that this small waiting area, with its gray, dingy walls and cement floor, its hard, reflective surfaces perfect for amplifying sound - this place is the ideal place to make her phone call.

“Well I told her what the caterers would charge... haha, yeah I know, but what about Thursday?” she says, full voice, as if she were in the privacy of her own home.

“I mean, why?” she continues, asking the question that everyone in the room except her is asking right this moment.

How Long Before the Cat Eats Me?

The writing isn’t going badly exactly, it’s just not going the way I want it to go, so I drop the notebook and pen on my bed and walk out into the hall.

I get about halfway down the hall before sinking to my knees and then slowly pitching forward until I am lying face down on the runner rug, my chin pressed into the floor, look like nothing so much as a hairless bearskin rug.

The cat, hearing me settle in to my newfound spot, circles me in some concern. Finally she stops and stands a few feet in front of me, and whines.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Copy of a Copy

One time, in high school, I got sick, and since I had to stay home from school for a few days my parents rented me some videotapes from Casa Blanca Video: one called “Urgh, A Music War” which had all of these live performances from various UK and American punk and New Wave groups, and a music video compilation called “Beast of the I.R.S.” (I.R.S. being my favorite record label at the time since they had the band R.E.M.).

Nowadays, of course, many of the pop cultural artifacts of youth now exist only online, if we’re lucky, so on to YouTube I go to find the detritus of my memories, and lo and behold, there's the whole thing - even a grainy, pixelated version of one of my all time favorite songs: Radio Free Europe by R.E.M.

The thing is so degraded though, a bad copy of a bad copy of a videotape, that it’s hardly recognizable. Like my memories, it’s mostly something I have to make up in my head - just a copy of a copy, emotions that I conjure up from ghosts.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Magnolia

The morning rain gives way to blustery winds whipping harried clouds across a shifting sun as Katie and I walk home from the grocery store, and trees toss their newly greening heads around, while the few that have already opened their flowers wave them back and forth frantically.

Magnolia,” Katie growls in her best heavy metal voice as we pass one in full bloom, its pink flowers like cool flamingo flames.

“I’m not sure that’s how it sounds,” I say, laughing.

“I bet it sounds like something when each of those flowers open,” she says, and suddenly I can imagine the buds bursting open like cannon fire, explosions of color and plant sex into the spring air.


Sunday, April 14, 2019

Where I Belong

Delta Airlines has separated Katie and I on our flight, so now we’re both sitting in middle seats several rows apart, but when I get to my seat, the older man and woman sitting on either side of me look at me expectantly.

“Would you like an aisle seat?” the woman asks pleasantly, and of course I say yes, because I’m six foot two at least, and the aisle is always better.

But now we have a bargaining chip, and as soon as Katie sees me sit down, she’s commences negotiations with the person sitting in the aisle in her row.

A few minutes later, a tall asian fellow ambles up the aisle to take my seat, and I gather my things to go back and sit next to Katie where I belong, saying to the couple in my row, “Lovely meeting you!"

Saturday, April 13, 2019

What Drives Us

“I don’t use the signal all the time because sometimes, when they see you’re trying to get in, they’ll speed up,” our driver says.

While the rest of us take this in he continues,  “Coming from New York, you see some things.”

“So when it comes to driving, who's better, New York or Atlanta?” I ask.

“People in New York know how to drive,” he says with a chuckle.

Friday, April 12, 2019

Indecisive

We talk to the artist for a while, since there aren’t too many other customers at the festival at this hour. Her work is beautiful - thin sheets of wood bent into swoops and waves, parabolas of grain and knot, stained and tinted and twisted together into some sort of three-dimensional language - but there’s not a price to be seen.

She chalks it up, with a raspy laugh, to her inability to get started in the morning, part of which she attributes to her indecisiveness as a Gemini.

“I’m not picky,” she says, grinning behind sunglasses, “I’ll just have a bite of what everyone else is having.”

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Just Visiting

Looking through the window of the drop-off laundry place on our block, I become instantly wary when I see the cops standing at the counter talking to Judy, who runs the place. She’s gesturing broadly and speaking rapidly in Chinese as I come in, but I don’t want to pry so I just smile and slide my ticket across the counter.

“Everything’s okay, we’re just visiting our friends,” one of the cops says with a grin, and Judy nods happily.

“I mean, I was just gonna keep myself to myself,” I say as I feel my shoulders lower about an inch.

Having a Day

“Just go home,” the guy behind the counter at the donut shop says brusquely into his phone, before repeatedly stabbing the screen to hang up. “What do you want?”

Katie and I repeat our order, then repeat it again because he’s staring at his phone again without doing anything, and as he finally gets our donuts I whisper to Katie, “Seems like he’s going through some stuff.”

“Have a better one,” I say on the way out, but he’s staring angrily at his phone, and doesn’t hear me.

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Singular

Since we have to be quiet while Katie’s being interviewed, our whispered conversation eventually fizzles out, and I go back to scrolling through memes on my computer while our friend and his baby stare out the kitchen window at the low descending rain as it settles in over the backyards and gardens of the buildings behind ours.

After the interview, the baby is put down for a nap, and our friend sets up the lights to take pictures of Katie’s studio. Bored with memes, I stand up, stretch a little, and go stare out the window myself for a while, when what should appear but a woodpecker, darting from branch to branch with sharp, angular jumps, and a blue jay, who leaps arrogantly ever higher to the top of the same tree, periodically pausing to shout his claim on everything in earshot of his cry.

I wonder if our friend and his baby saw the birds, if they marveled at the different ways they moved, if the baby might someday remember, or if I was the only person in the world who saw.

Monday, April 8, 2019

She Has Things Under Control

The woman standing by the Citibike stand yells at the man walking away from her (toward me), and he yells back, but I can’t make out what they saying

“You just mad ‘cause you ain’t getting fucked,” he says, and now I think I’m looking at some kind of lover’s spat.

“You know I caught you trying to grab my purse,” she replies, and whoops! I got it wrong.

They do this for the three minutes it takes to reach her, with the two of them yelling variations on the above for the entire time, but when I reach her, she stops yelling, and fixes me with a look as if to say, “No thanks to you, buddy.”

My First Torta

“And you thought Mexican food didn’t use bread,” I say, munching happily on my first ever torta.

“To be fair,” Katie says, putting down her taco to address my slander, “I phrased it as a question, so maybe you could just get off my dick.”

“I will never get off  your dick,” I say seriously.

“Awww, marriage means never having to get off your spouses dick,” Katie says happily.

Sunday, April 7, 2019

Paparazzi

I’m talking to one person, finishing off a sale, when I notice, over their shoulder, another person sneaking a photo of one of Katie’s pieces. I’m loathe to break off my (pleasant, lucrative) conversation just to tell some rando to GTFOH with their visual thievery, so I decide to ignore them this time, but I can’t help being reminded of so many other photographers (attempted and otherwise) in the past.

All of them seem to have this smug, self-satisfied look about them as they raise their phones at that very particular angle, like they somehow believe that, in their act of pushing a button, they too are part of the act of creation, participants in the making of something beautiful, even though they have done literally almost nothing.

Finally, I can’t stand it anymore, and I lean around the person I’m speaking to with my friendliest, most aggressive smile, and say, “Sorry, no pictures, please."

Friday, April 5, 2019

It’s A Tonal Language

“So how does this work?” the woman sitting directly in front of the reception desk of the doctor’s office where I’m temping today asks. “I got here before her but she got called before me.”

“I hear you, but she finished her paperwork before you did, so she got called first,” I say, trying to be as straightforward and neutral about it despite feeling a little bad about how things worked out.

She watches me suspiciously for a few moments after I bend back to my work, then goes back to her phone conversation in Spanish, where she sounds a little like she’s talking just the tiniest bit of shit about somebody who may or may not be me.

Thursday, April 4, 2019

First Impressions

Blond guy, broad shouldered but not terribly tall, gets on the train when the doors open without letting people off first, so I don’t like him already.

He beelines for an open seat, ignoring the lasers I’m shooting into his back from my eyes, and sits down, and I see from his acned chin and slightly doughy look that he’s really just a kid. I watch him for a while, taking in his sullen stare, the lightly greasy sheen of his forehead, his pale blue jeans, and I don’t know why, but I’m put in mind of the type of kid who brings a gun to school.

My opinion of him is not improved when I notice the enameled American flag he’s got woven into the laces of his boots.

Urine Luck

The clearly harried HR director who’s been tasked with getting me situated at my new temp gig doesn’t really seem to know a whole lot of information about the usual tasks of the position, but she does have some interesting insights, nonetheless.

“Sometimes the guys will complain about the state of the men’s restroom,” she says cryptically, but I’m taking everything in, just trying to figure out what’s important and what’s not, so I nod and smile, and we move on to other topics.

It’s not until later that afternoon, when I hear shouts of distress, and a whole bunch of guys talking excitedly as they walk away from the restroom, that I remember what she said, and ask one of them, “Men’s bathroom?”

“I mean, how does a urinal overflow?” he replies with an amazed shake of his head.

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Nineteen Cents

“I’ll tell you the best thing that happened to me today,” I tell Katie as she’s lying on the couch idly tapping her phone’s screen. “I went to buy the frozen concentrate orange juice, which was two sixty-nine, and then I thought, hey, I’ll check to see if there’s a deal on the not-from-concentrate orange juice.”

“And the not-from-concentrate stuff was two-for-five, so there was a deal, and that’s the best thing that happened to me today.”

Afterwards, Katie looks up at me where I’m standing triumphantly with the most pitying look on her face.

Monday, April 1, 2019

Sleeping Alone

“And this ‘sleeping apart’ thing has got to go,” Katie says, concluding her description of the hotel she stayed in while I dropped off the truck last night.

“Yeah,” I agree. “Nothing beats a warm pooks at your back and a schmecks curled in the crook of your arm to get to sleep.

“You know, to be fair, we didn’t really ‘sleep’ ‘apart’ much last night,” I add later.


Park Slope Is Closed

3:15 in the morning, I drop off the truck in the desolate U-Haul lot and begin my journey home. A cold wind blows down empty, foreboding streets, perfect for a mugging, and I pull up my hood, put on my mean face, and walk like I have someplace to be, which I do.

By the time I’m almost home, walking down President Street, I start to think my earlier suspicions were silly, as not only have I not seen another soul, but not even a car has passed me in almost 15 minutes.

Then I come around the corner to my house, and there’s the garbage truck, with three dudes picking up the trash, and I know I was being silly.