Saturday, July 20, 2019

The Service Industry

“No, man, you gotta put the phone number on there,” he says sternly to the older Asian man behind the counter at the laundry. He stabs the laundry ticket with his finger, and repeats, “Put it on there.”

“'Cause people, they need to get their stuff back,” he says, with a sweeping gesture to take in all the old articles of clothing people have left behind over the years that are hanging from the ceiling and stacked on the shelves (nevermind that I personally know, having gone to this same laundry for years, that the previous owner sold the shop to the current owner twenty years ago on the condition that he leave all of the very old lost items exactly as they were when he bought the shop).

Still, after that interaction has ended, I still feel kind of bad going up to the counter to drop off my laundry and saying to that same older Asian man, “Please have this ready for me by eight o’clock today."

Friday, July 19, 2019

Where Else?

After Facebook throws up a “Six years ago today” post on Katie’s timeline, I go back in my blog to see what we were doing.

Turns out we went to Ikea, and go irritated with each other, and I snapped at her, and she snapped at me.

When I relate this to Katie, she looks at me incredulously. “You put that on the Internet?” she asks.

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Haunted

Nothing seems quite right - I’m hungry, but I don’t want to cook; tired, but I don’t want to sleep; feeling creative, but everything I make seems awful to me; my side of the room is messy, but I don’t want to pick up or clean, and I certainly feel guilty as Katie becomes industrious and starts picking up her side of the room.

I take a bag of garbage downstairs, drop it in the bin, and then continue through the vestibule to the outer door, where I stand on the stoop and watch the rain. The storm is supposedly the remnants of the hurricane that battered New Orleans earlier this month, but it still has a lot of energy and water in it, so it’s really coming down, sheets of rain against the streetlights, and the gutters are running like rivers.

I stand watching it, feeling uncomfortable in my own skin for the first time in ages; there’s only a few cars and a couple of delivery guys on e-bikes hurrying though the rain to their destinations, and I wonder if something that I thought was gone has returned.

DINKs

“So we’ve got four adults and a child coming,” I tell the hostess.

“Does the child need a high-chair?” she asks.

The child is four years old, so I don’t think so, but I text Katie, “Ask her parents if she needs a high chair.”

“I don’t really know how kids work,” I add.

Monday, July 15, 2019

Against Pity

The very old man in the waiting room with the sad, thousand-yard-stare and the seemingly only-marginally-engaged caretaker is breaking my heart. I find myself pining after my wife, and hoping that neither of us has to live long without the other when we get old.

After his appointment, as he’s shuffling toward the door, his caretaker asks him how his appointment went, and he says in a flat voice, “Looks like they’re gonna have to cut off the ear.”

As she reels in shock at this revelation, he glances over, catches my eye, and winks.

Sunday, July 14, 2019

Congrats, It’s a Spike

I feel foolish, but I’m too far from home to walk it, so there’s nothing for it: I have to go in this bike shop to get my flat fixed.

They take my bike in the back while I pace the front of the store like an expectant father in a cliched cartoon from the Fifties.

“Well, when I’m fixing a flat, I don’t rest until I find the cause,” the repairman says finally, as he comes out from behind the counter holding my wheel.

“I think this is it,” he finishes with a small smile, holding up a thin piece of metal about an inch long.

Saturday, July 13, 2019

Time is a River

"I forgot it was Saturday,” Katie texts me as I’m sitting in the shade eating lunch down by the East River.

Suddenly I have this vision of a day bounded by the four corners of a box on the calendar, squared off and completely denatured, a box called Saturday following a box called Friday, followed by a box called Sunday, and so on, forever.

That isn't how time is truly, though, but to see it as it is terrifies us: days unmoored from the work week, the vertigo of freedom, the singular flow of time as everything changes.

The saying goes, “The days are long but the years are short,” but what day is it really but today, sitting by the river watching it flow past, the same river, but never the same?

Friday, July 12, 2019

I Wrote This On My Phone

NYC used to be a city of driven, fast walkers, all of us too busy, too stressed, too on our way to look up and gawk at the spectacle of commerce and culture throwing skyscrapers toward the sun. You could tell a tourist by the way they looked around.

The two women walking in front of me this morning on the way to the subway stroll down the sidewalk, not looking around, heads still down, but their eyes and minds deep inside the small glass tiles in their hands. One stops up short as an electric car passes silently inches away from her in the intersection, and she looks up, mildly annoyed her reverie was broken, and then puts her face back in the glass and continues her morning stroll.

Thursday, July 11, 2019

The Times Better Get to Changing

“Did I ever tell you about Mr. from my freshman year of high school?” I ask Katie as I take out my contacts.

“The creepy band director who slept with one of his students?” she replies.

“Yes! but it turns out after my slightly cursory Google search that I can’t find out if he ever got charged with a crime, and then I’m pretty sure he moved to Nevada and got a job as a band director there, so I’m guessing not?” I say.

“Every woman needs to carry around a brick in their purse so that when they feel that rage they can just chuck it through the nearest window,” she says, wringing out the shirt she’s washing in the sink with just a tiny bit of extra twisting, like she’s visualizing a neck.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Born In the Sign of Water

I am covered in sweat by the time I get to the pool on this hot summer day, and I lock up my bike and head inside.

The locker room is moist and smells like urine, so I hurry up and change into my swimsuit and head out on the deck.

I haven’t swam laps, like really swam the way I used to, in more than five years, I think, and certainly not since I had cancer.

When I dive in, the water is shockingly cold, but only for a moment, and I instantly feel at home in a way that nowhere else on earth can really match.

It’s a Stretch

I start off writing about spilling ice cream, and then Katie reminds me of how we made pizza from scratch earlier in the day.

“You could talk about the gluten,” she says, and I remember us stretching the dough out on the pan. It would stretch out and then contract back, and we would gently knead it with our fingertips until it stayed in the shape we wanted.

“You stretch your muscles out every morning,” she says, referring to my yoga practice, “and we stretched the gluten the same way."

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

A Medicine For Melancholy

As we walk across the meadow near the entrance to the park, I can feel my anxiety fading. We lie on a hill and stare at the sky, and I think about whether or not I can see the air between me and the clouds moving, until a hawk sweeps through my field of vision, and I lean my head backwards to watch it go.

We walk over to the pond to enjoy the dogs swimming and chasing each other around until we both have relaxed almost completely, then we start to walk back home.

As we pass into a shady grove, Katie says, “Isn’t it nice to know that the best cure for anxiety for both of us is a free walk in the park?"

Saturday, July 6, 2019

Window Crib

I look up from the bike lane to the apartment buildings on the other side of the road. They’re the usual midcentury four story boredoms of brick and a dearth of imagination, with bars over the windows from when Williamsburg was a bit dicier of a neighborhood.

Up on the third floor, however, in one of the windows where the bars have been built out to accommodate a window air-conditioning unit, a small child sits in the little nook where the air-conditioner would be, suspended out over nothing, curled up and calm.

She sees me, gawking at her, and she smiles a pleased, knowing smile, while she slowly raises her hand to wave at me.

Friday, July 5, 2019

Different Responses to Stress

“Okay, I’ll be right down,” I hear Katie on the phone in the other room where she’s been napping.

I instantly sit up in the bedroom where I’ve been napping and mentally prepare to do something, though I’m not sure what.

“They’re downstairs right now with the delivery,” she says, coming into the bedroom and grabbing clothes.

“Please don’t laugh at that,” she says, because I am as I hunt frantically for my shoes.

Dog Beach

There’s a spot in the park where people bring their dogs to swim in a pond, and they call it “Dog Beach.”

Today we went down to Dog Beach to watch the dogs. A pit bull swam back and forth like he was looking to try out for the olympic team.

When his owner managed to get him out he whined and pulled at the leash, but she didn’t let him go back in. 

Thursday, July 4, 2019

Scorpio Rising

“I think it’s Scorpio,” I say, pointing out the three stars and the tail.

“I don’t think Scorpio is as big a deal as people think it is,” Katie says thoughtfully as we head back toward the park entrance.

“That is so you: inexplicable opinions held with deep conviction,” I say, laughing.

“We were just looking at the sky, so I don’t think it’s inexplicable at all,”she replies, sounding only mildly offended.

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Cooking With Gas (CO2)

“Brown sugar can help..., wait,” Katie says, stopping me before I go off, as I usually do, without listening to the whole thing. “Baking soda will also interact with the excess vinegar and turn it into carbon dioxide,” she says, more firmly.

I sprinkle less than a quarter-teaspoon into the too-vinegary black beans, and sure enough, they furiously foam up with fine brownish-black bubbles and then subside. A quick tasting shows them to be, if not perfect, then at least miles better than what they were just a moment ago.

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

I.G.Y.

Laying back on the deck chair by the rooftop pool, I can feel tiny sparks on my skin as the sun gently unknits strands of my DNA.

On the runway far down below, passenger jets loft themselves majestically into the air, as if by magic, and the sheer impossibility of such large, heavy objects doing such a thing, while still resolutely continuing to do so, over and over, is very soothing.

Katie lifts her phone here and there, and takes photos of herself, and of me, of our food, our drinks, the planes, the inexhaustible white of the pool deck and furniture and all, and I watch the runway and think empty thoughts.

Two women pose in the pool with the runways behind them, and a third woman takes a picture of them, while far away, a black plume of smoke rises from a burning fuselage which has been lit on fire, we are told by the softly murmuring management, “as a training exercise."