Sunday, May 31, 2020

A Nice Day For It

My work cut us loose early today over fears of nearby protests causing problems with people's commutes, so I ended up home a little after 1:00 PM. It was a lovely day, so I lay down on the back deck and stared up into the trees while the wind tossed the sunlight around.

A cardinal flitted into a tree, burbling happily about nothing, and I closed my eyes and listened to his song. Then I woke up and the sun had moved across the sky.

Friday, May 29, 2020

Trash Panda TV

I come in to the living room from playing piano, and Katie has The Curious Case of Benjamin Button on the TV in the background while she works on her phone, and I sit and watch it for a while until it's time to get ready for bed. She's fine with turning it off mid-movie, because she's watching it "for free" on Netflix, because, "I don't rent stuff to watch by myself! I can watch garbage and be perfectly content."

"You're like the raccoon of entertainment consumption," I say, kissing her on the forehead as she nods happily.

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

The Distance

"Do you live in Brooklyn?" my new co-worker asks. She's standing a little too close, but I don't say anything, because maybe I've just gotten used to not being close to people I don't live with, and maybe I've got to unlearn some habits to be out in the world again.

"I live in Staten Island," she answers herself. When I express consternation at the distance she has to commute, she reassures me, "Oh, I have a car."

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Eating My Feelings (Making A Mess)

Katie is solicitous of me tonight, because she knows I'm a little nervous about going back to work tomorrow (even though there's nothing to really worry about).

"Did you get enough treats, like did you want ice cream?" she asks kindly.

"I had ice cream, thank you, because that's how I got chocolate on my shirt," I explain.

"Of course you did," she says, laughing.

Effectively Feral

I prep for my coming earlier schedule by going to bed earlier the night before, but I still wake groggy, my legs unsteady beneath me as I struggle to stand. The cat hollers outside the bedroom door, hoping against hope to guide me by the sound of her voice to the kitchen to feed her, since I seem entirely incapable of finding my way there on my own.

After she's fed, I stumble to the bathroom and stand on the scale pondering my dreams. I had dreamed I was the personal assistant to a mutual friend of ours, and she had been dripping with diamonds and rubies that her husband had bought her, and my heart had sank at the thought of trying to be an assistant again when I was so desperately unsuited for the role after being out of an office for over a year and being, at this point, effectively feral.

Monday, May 25, 2020

The Level Of Discourse

"Wait, what song is that?" I ask my roommate.

"It's from Robin Hood," he replies.

"I thought it was a seventies song, and all I could think of was 'ooh-da-lally-ooh-da-lally' so I thought I was wrong...," I say.

"You're bringing the whole apartment down, Scott - get your head in the game!" Katie calls from another room.

Sunday, May 24, 2020

Putting My Foot In My Mouth

"When will things come back?" our roommate asks in a plaintive tone as I wash dishes in the kitchen.

Katie cheerfully lists off a number of institutions (like the Met and others) that are working towards reopening, before adding pragmatically, "But, you know, New York will be last, since we have the most people."

"And we had the most people die," I add thoughtlessly.

"Oh, I don't think that's helpful," Katie says.

Saturday, May 23, 2020

Bet It Was About Masks

We walked to where I'll be starting back to work next week, following the bike route to make sure there weren't obstacles like construction or cops parked in the bike lanes. Everything seemed clear, and most people seemed to be wearing masks and making at least a nominal effort to maintain social distancing.

When we got home, Katie looked at her phone. "The Citizen app says there was a fight at the intersection by your work just now," she tells me.

Friday, May 22, 2020

The New Helpfulness

I stand on the curb and play with my phone while Katie runs into the drugstore. Some people stand a few doors down next to a mattress, like they're moving a bed into, or out of, an apartment, and subsequently the group disperses, leaving just one person out there, also playing with her phone.

A gust of wind comes up and catches the mattress where it's leaning up against the wall, and it sails to the ground with a resounding thump.

My first impulse is to go over and help her pick it up, but then I think: I don't know her, and more importantly, she doesn't know me, so I just stand a few yards away while she handles things, and I try not to look like I'm ignoring her plight.

Thursday, May 21, 2020

A Matter Of Public Record

The line to get into the co-op extends around the block, passing right in front of our door, so we often see people in the queue standing their socially distant six feet from one another while they wait. 

As we come out to walk to the park, we see that the gentleman waiting directly in front has neglected to put on his mask to be in public. Katie pauses at the top of the stair to take out her phone and take a picture while I stand in front of the shop on the street level floor of our building, waiting for her to finish.

When she's done, we head down the street, and one of us points out a very good dog coming up, which we are obligated to point out to the other whenever we see them.

Wednesday, May 20, 2020


"I'm going downstairs to sit outside," I tell Katie. I even change into jeans, just in case it's cold out.

But when I get downstairs, it's actually even more blustery than I anticipated, and I end up wrapping up in a blanket against the wind, which honestly doesn't really help much, as the wind sneaks cold fingers in the gaps to chill me.

Rather than go upstairs, maybe grab a jacket, or just abandon the whole thing as a bad idea, I stubbornly stay and finish reading my chapter, because I came down her to read, and by god I will read, dammit.

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

An Outing

I lie on my back and listen to the sounds of the park with my eyes closed: a dog barks, a kid talks about the plot of his favorite video game with his dad, some girls chat about what they ate for lunch, birds chirp and quarrel above and around us. Tufts of grass poke into my back, but in spite of that I find myself almost dozing in the warmth of a lovely spring day.

It's almost enough to make me forget what's going on, why no one is within six feet of us, in one of the most crowded cities in the world.

Katie says something, but her voice is muffled by her mask, and I ask her to repeat herself.

Sunday, May 17, 2020

The Dynamics of Our Relationship

“So is it just a cat getting a treat?” Katie asks as the video nears the end.

“I think so. This is the sort of wholesome content I’m here for,” I reply.

“Well, I’m over here making a Theodore Kaczynski avatar for Facebook, so just keep holding up your end of...,” she gestures to the two of us, “...this."

I Got Over It

The sun is gently bright and the air is warm, but not warm enough to make my mask uncomfortable, as we walk along the park.

But the unease mixed with a little bit of discouragement I woke with this morning still hasn't left me, and constantly having to monitor the people around me, how close they are, whether they're wearing masks or not, isn't helping, so I walk in silence for a couple blocks.

"Is there anything you want to talk about or...?" Katie asks helpfully.

"I'm still kind of sad and anxious right now, and I'm trying not to make it anybody else's problem," I tell her.

Saturday, May 16, 2020

What Am I Gonna Do About It?

We sit out in the sun, under a tree, while the wind gusts and falls. I stare up into the fluttering new leaves with hardly a thought in my head until I see a movement that is neither leaf nor breeze.

A bird sits on a branch high above me, his tail feathers hanging over my chair.

"Hey, don't poop on me, or we're gonna have a problem," I call up to the bird, and he obligingly turns so his tail feathers are facing the other way, but I'm not sure what I would have done if he had decided to poop.

Thursday, May 14, 2020


I'm playing a game on my phone in the kitchen when the cat walks in, clearly on her last legs with hunger. She stalks to the center of the room, gazes up at me with huge, soulful eyes, and her mouth opens without noise, in a silent meow from the depths of feline despair.

A glance at the clock tells me she's right, and I fetch the can and spend a few precious seconds mashing the can-shaped wad of processed meat into something slightly less unnatural while she circles me, now in full voice, all signs of her previous ailment vanished, yowling impatiently.

"I try to make things nice for you," I explain, and she angrily meows again.

Fair Point

Mid-morning, we're still in bed, Katie nestled on my chest, and I'm ranting about the song "Drops of Jupiter" by Train, as you do. "They had an almost perfect song, like, a beautiful song, and they started singing about fried chicken and 'the best soy-latte that you ever had,' and just ruined it."

"You should write them a letter," Katie mumbles sleepily. Then, more clearly, "And make sure you put the date on it so they'll know you're still mad about a song they wrote twenty years ago."

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

A Nice Day For Queueing

To avoid crowding the tiny post office, Katie goes in while I stand on the curb. I eventually move away from the entrance, because people keep asking me if I'm waiting in line to go in, so to avoid confusion, I end up watching the door from the corner.

But instead of waiting in line, people keep walking in to the post office, to the point where it starts looking like a clown car in reverse - like, I know how small that place is, and you all do not fit.

Finally Katie comes out, her expression difficult to read beneath her mask, and as we walk home she proclaims, "It is a nice day - why couldn't all those people wait outside in the sunshine?"

Tuesday, May 12, 2020


Katie goes to her window, and I go to mine, each of us on either side of the china cabinet. I unlatch and open the top pane, slide down the screen, and wait.

Then I hear it: a man's voice shouting, "Yay!!!!!" followed by what sounds like the entire block erupting with cheering and clapping, Katie bangs on a pot with a wooden spoon, I whistle, clap and scream, the entire lot of us letting out a pent up howl from the depths of our tension and confinement.

After a couple minutes, my energy spent, I move to close the window, and a woman hanging out a window on the fourth floor across the street calls out, "See you tomorrow!"

Sunday, May 10, 2020


"I'm just a better songwriter than I am a singer," I say somewhat bitterly after finishing a less than satisfactory take on a new song.

Katie opens her eyes part way to look at me and reaches out a hand from where she's been napping on the bed. "You're speaking in declarative sentences," she says sleepily. "I can't argue with you when you do that."

Saturday, May 9, 2020

Another Mouth to Feed

"Please remind me to feed Esmerelda before I go to bed," Katie says. 'Esmerelda' is the name of her sourdough starter, which she has been assiduously cultivating for the past week and a half or so.

The process of "feeding" a sourdough starter involves adding flour and water to a spongy mass of yeast and dough, and at a certain point you start doing this process twice a day.

When she feeds it in the morning, there's a little excess dough that she turns into a savory little fried pancake, and usually she gives it to me, as a treat.

Friday, May 8, 2020

Seance For The Living

"Is this by that band that did 'Come Sail Away'?" Katie asks as I'm playing a song by Yes.

"No that was Styx, and they're American, but I can understand why you'd think that. My friends and I would have discussions about which American prog band was the best: Kansas or Styx, and of course you have to say Kansas, although Styx has some really good tunes, too, but as far as musicianship goes...."

"Look at you, having conversations with ghosts," she says, going back to getting ready for bed.

Thursday, May 7, 2020

Telling on Myself

We decide to watch the scary movie about the grotesque doll that's possessed by the demon and kills people.

About a third of the way through, Katie says, "You get scared and you start to talk a lot."

I sort of half-heartedly attempt to defend my honor.

"It's okay," she says, "I just wanted to know that you have a tell."

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Or Little Dry Erase Boards

We stand outside the liquor store for a minute or so waiting for someone to notice. Finally, the woman behind the counter sees us, and we spend a second shouting and gesticulating through the glass (hindered in making ourselves understood by the masks we're wearing) until she opens up the door to hear us better.

"I'm here to pick up my order, under the name Flaherty?" I tell her.

As she goes in to fetch our wine, Katie remarks, "We ought to just carry signs around with our names on them."

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Everybody Just Getting By

As we're about to head out to the post office we see through the glass of the front doors, perched on our front stoop, a dude talking on his phone, blocking our way out.

Katie politely but firmly knocks on the glass, and the guy hurriedly stands, pulls his mask over his mouth, and retreats to the curb.

"Sorry," he calls out as we exit.

"It's okay," I say, and Katie agrees, adding, "Have a nice day!"

Monday, May 4, 2020

Scratch Vocals

My foray into the outer world has left me stressed, and I'm back in the safety of my bedroom trying to record vocals for a new song. It's a little low in my range, and I just can't get the pitch to stay steady. I can feel the tightness in my diaphragm.

I get through the song, but it's not what I want, so I leave it and go sit on the couch with Katie, and then we go clap and yell out the window until we're hoarse to tell the people who are still working we love them, and that makes me feel better.

Sunday, May 3, 2020

Taking Its Toll (House)

"Did you make these from scratch?" our roommate asks after eating one of my chocolate chip cookies.

"He always makes them from scratch," Katie answers.

"Stupid," he says, miming slapping me across the face. I obligingly snap my head in the correct direction, indicating that I have been struck because I made delicious cookies.

Saturday, May 2, 2020

Public Shaming

We walk up Seventh Avenue in Brooklyn, weaving back and forth across the sidewalk in an attempt to keep appropriate social distance. I can taste my own breath in my mask and I feel a little anxious just being outside.

"That guy's doing it wrong," Katie says loudly, pointing at a man with his mask dangling around his neck. He furtively pulls it up over his mouth and nose and doesn't make eye contact as we continue on our way.

Friday, May 1, 2020

Vitamin D'oh

"I'm crabby," I announce as I'm walking down the hall. Katie's building a virtual city on her phone when I get to the family room, so I say it again: "I'm crabby."

"Are you crabby about someone or something in particular?" she asks calmly. When we've established that it's just sort of free-floating, she muses, "Well, you haven't been outside in like, three days, so...."