Tuesday, March 30, 2021


I smile into the breeze as I glide up 7th Avenue in the golden late afternoon sun. My electric scooter is fast (but not too fast) and agile (but not excessively agile), and I feel deliciously free and relaxed, flowing with traffic, gracefully detouring around the double-parked box trucks and taxis with wide, easy arcs.

I pull up to the curb outside the donut shop and watch the passersby as I wait for the woman inside to finish her purchase. She comes out and apologizes for taking so long and I grin, saying, "No need to apologize," before heading in to buy myself a snack.

Sunday, March 28, 2021


“You think that Irish guy’s dead?” I ask Katie about one of the mob crime shows we’re watching.

“There’s two episodes left, so he might come back at the last moment,” she says.

“Deus ex Mulligan,” thinking I’m clever.

“Deus ex mafia,” she replies.

Saturday, March 27, 2021

Here's Your Sign

"One-twenty over eighty-one," the young nurse says as she pulls the velcro'ed blood pressure cuff off my arm with a satisfying ripping sound. "Lower than mine, but I'm working on it," she adds ruefully.

"I gotta say, I started doing about thirty minutes of yoga a day every day, and it really helped me - might help you, too," I say.

"I believe I was meant to meet you today, because I have been thinking about doing just that, and you are the sign that I should," she replies.

Friday, March 26, 2021

Coming Back

On the corner by the playground, two container trucks idle, their engines loud in the quiet neighborhood.

But as we pass by the trucks, we realize that their engines are actually off, and the rhythmic motor sound is actually coming from further up the block. We walk up the side of the park, past recently empty swings and jungle gyms now filled with masked-up kids and their guardians, past the bustling field where toddlers pick up plastic balls to fling them away so they can chase them.

We talk about how, a year ago, all of this went away, and how now it’s coming back.

Wednesday, March 24, 2021


While Katie is taking her nighttime shower, I get ready for bed. I fill up water bottles with ice and fresh water (water bottles being the preferred choice when living with a cat, as it removes the feline temptation to get a drink of delicious human water from an open glass), change into my sleep clothes, and write this.

But when she gets out of the shower, even though we've got fresh water and I'm in my pj's, my nightly lines have yet to be written, and I'm lying bed avid perusing a book of cocktail recipes.

"I got distracted," I say sheepishly, but she doesn't even react, but simply smiles and nods, as if she already knew.

Volcano Heart

The video of the volcano in Iceland is half-an-hour long, so we fast-forward to the part where the side of the cone collapses, pouring out a massive wave of red, glowing lava over the landscape.

Katie and I gape at the spectacle from the safety of our couch, and I'm tempted to rewind to watch it again.

Her face is a portrait of contentment, and she sighs, "I love lava so much."

"Because it speaks to your soul," I agree, and she laughs.

Monday, March 22, 2021

Friendly Can Work Both Ways

"Can I say hi to your dog?" I ask about her ancient Pomeranian 

She looks up with a bored expression from her phone and says, "He's not very friendly."

Sure enough, as I hold out my hand, he begins snarling and barking, until I kneel down to make myself a little less threatening, which seems to mollify him.

Eventually, I'm scratching him behind the ears until he curls up on my feet and closes his eyes, causing his owner to say, "Wow."

Operating Hours

It's Sunday, so I'm pretty sure the library is closed, but since I haven't been inside it in over a year, I weave in and out of the masses of people chatting in the setting sun at Grand Army Plaza, cross Flatbush, and walk up the wide stairs to the curved stone front of the main branch of the Brooklyn Public Library.

The open plaza in front of the library doors, in contrast to Grand Army, is almost deserted, except for a few transients sleeping on the large blocks of marble flanking the staircase, and a man sitting idly at a metal table. A couple of women are also ascending the stairs to the towering metal doorway, and I politely give them space until we're all three of us at the door, and I'm reading the sign for the hours of operation.

"It's closed, isn't it?" one of them asks, and I nod sadly before turning to make my way back to the park.

Saturday, March 20, 2021

I Should Think Not

“Oops!” says the student nurse who’s administering my second vaccine dose. “I think I have to go get you a new vaccine.” She holds up a syringe (which she insists came that way) with a bent needle.

“I’ve never bent a needle on a person before,” she says as an aside, “just a mannequin."

Friday, March 19, 2021

No Worries

The next time I come out to the truck, a guy is sitting on a sidewalk planter beside it, smoking a joint.

I have to park the dolly pretty close to him, and I give him an apologetic shrug which he accepts without responding.

"I said, sorry about the smell," he says with an appraising look after I finish loading the dolly.

"Don't worry about it," I reply with a smile, and he smiles back.

A Connection

The old guy without his mask on is talking pretty loudly (and with mention of "grenades" and "snipers, in a disturbing fashion) to the young guy, and Katie isn't even bothering to hide that she's watching. The old man is unkempt and unwashed, his voice accented, maybe Russian or Eastern European? but perfectly understandable. 

I envision a version of events going down where this guy gets aggressive with Katie if he notices her watching them, just because he's obviously not entirely mentally well, but I can tell Katie doesn't think this is going to happen, and the kid seems to be keeping things pretty light, so I take a deep breath and calm down.

"There's some kind of connection being attempted here," she says, indicating between the kid and the old guy, "and I am fascinated by it."

Thursday, March 18, 2021

Deductive Reasoning

I am staring at the subway turnstiles like a dog trying to do algebra when the guy in the MTA vest walks by. The issue I'm having is how to get this oversized bag filled with two humungous helium balloons (a giant grinning toucan and an enormous gold pineapple) through the gates along with the other decorations and the cake I'm carrying.

I humbly ask him for help, and he graciously obliges by opening the service gate for me so I can just pass through, bags and cakes and balloons and all.

"Happy birthday to whoever it is!" he calls cheerfully after me with a grin and a wave.

Monday, March 15, 2021

You Should Not Breed

The woman with the howling baby declines to get on the elevator, and as the door closes the man riding back down to the shoe floor with me sighs in relief.

"That is why I hate babies around me, or near me," he says conspiratorially. "And why I am never going to have one," he adds.

"Well, clearly there's a good reason for certain people not to have babies," I say, in an agreeable tone.


The sales floor finally slows down to a few half-hearted shoppers absent-mindedly re-arranging the displays, the adrenaline wears off, and the full weight of a busy, understaffed day hits me. I grab a few boxes of shoes and head down the escalator to the stock room while the disco-pop hybrid they play continues to thump and wail in the overhead speakers.

Outside the stockroom at a register, a woman waits with her tall, white poodle, both of them waiting for an associate to check her out, and I sidle up, asking to greet her dog.

The dog ignores his owners assent and my outstretched hand, and immediately comes in close to spoon me, burying his muzzle into my thigh, and stands very still while I feel a life bar over my heart fill like a power-up in a video game.

Sunday, March 14, 2021

Enjoy Yourself

“Wait, ‘Daylight Savings Begins?’” I read off of the calendar alert on the computer.

“‘Daylight Savings Begins,’” Katie repeats from the other room. “Yeah, I guess that means it’s later than it is.”

“Well shit!” I reply, after a short pause.

Saturday, March 13, 2021

No Gin

I don’t look up until he mutters, “Goddamn.” That’s when I see him across from me on the train, pouring a bottle of tonic water into a small plastic cup.

With the careful, slow movements of the truly inebriated, he sets the cup on the seat next to him, where it promptly spills as soon as the train lurches into motion.

I expect him to curse again, but he just looks down sadly at the pool of tonic water he’s created - he sighs, I sigh, and then we both go back to what we were doing.

Friday, March 12, 2021

Getting The Right Guy

"I'm sorry," the nurse says tentatively as I'm about to go into the machine, "could you please tell me your name and birthday again?"

"You never have to apologize for doing your job well and not getting the wrong guy," I tell her. "Why would apologize for that?"

"Sometimes people are old, or they get irritated because we ask so much, or... well just sometimes people are really mean!" 

Thursday, March 11, 2021


"What's blue curaçao anyway?" the guy at the liquor store asks.

This taps right into my genetic predisposition to explain everything to anybody who asks (and many who don't). My parents and my sister either currently are, or once were, teachers, so I guess it's in my blood.

"It's just regular orange curaçao, but dyed blue, for some reason," I say, trying to play it off like it's not a big deal to know stuff, even though I'm secretly delighted.

Wednesday, March 10, 2021

The Way of All Flesh

The tub has been draining slowly, lately, turning showers into wading pools. It seemed to happen overnight, working well one day and then suddenly not, but of course it must have been a process of some kind - the gradual accumulation in the pipes of hair and soap, the buildup, maybe over years, of shampoo scum and dirt until, finally, the water could no longer pass.

I find myself imagining growing older as I think about this. Errors in the DNA proliferating, wear and tear accruing to joints and ligaments, the whole system running down until, one day, seemingly out of nowhere (while actually quite predictable, a bill long due) the system loses integrity, and either is put back together, or fails. 

Monday, March 8, 2021

A Case of the Mondays

Even though the train's stopped in the tunnel, I've still got two bars of service on my phone, just enough to squeeze out a text to the group chat at work letting them know I'll be late. The conductor, his voice garbled by the speaker, blarghed at us a few minutes ago to inform us that the smoke condition at Columbus Circle had fucked our morning commute. Nothing to do now but wait - won't be long now, I'm sure.

Forty-five minutes later, we pull into the station and I stumble out of the car, already burnt out on the day, with a full shift at work still ahead.

Not Looking

I glance up from my book as we cross the bridge, and accidentally catch the eye of the woman sitting across the train from me. I politely avert my eyes, don't want to appear to be a creep, but happily there's a magnificent sunset out the window just over her shoulder to look at instead. 

But as the skyline burns fiery red and gold, shading into deep blue behind the glittering catenary of the Brooklyn Bridge, I realize now there is another issue: she knows that I'm not looking at her, but she's watching me not look at her, and knowing that I know she knows that I'm not looking her, etc., etc., etc. So of course, in this state of reflexive self-consciousness, I'm completely unable to enjoy the lovely spectacle of a sunset, but thankfully by this time we're back underground, and I return to safety of my book.

Sunday, March 7, 2021


"Where are you from?" she asks. presumably in response to some regionalism I dropped in my speech.

"Oh, I've been her since 1996," I reply airily. 

"You look far too young for that!" her eyes widening in shock.

"If my wife were here, she might think you were flirting with me," I tease, and the laugh-lines around her eyes deepen with her smile.

Saturday, March 6, 2021

East Coast/West Coast

"I needed a break back in May, so I visited my folks on the West Coast," she says as she tries on the shoe. Then, after a few seconds, she says, looking down at it, "I don't know, but thank you for bringing it out."

"Listen," I say gently, "if you don't like the shoe, it's okay, just say, 'I hate it.' Don't stand on West Coast politeness."

Friday, March 5, 2021

Truth By Default

"We've done both trainings," my co-worker tells our manager when she asks, as he gives me a significant look.

"Actually, I still need to do the first part," I say, and my co-worker rolls his eyes at my blowing his attempt to help me. There's no point in telling him that I'm not super great at lying, so I don't usually bother since it tends to be more trouble than it's worth, and easier to just do what I said I was gonna do.

"Sorry, I didn't know the play," I tell him later as a way to patch things up, but he doesn't seem to mind one way or the other, so it's fine.

Wednesday, March 3, 2021

He Suspects I'm Not Real

I've only got a few minutes before we have to leave to meet our friend, so I make my trip to the grocery store brief: a few frozen meals for lunches at work, a couple of energy bars, a quick self-checkout, and I'm on my way.

But here, at the exit, I am blocked. A tall, middle-aged, blond man stands outside in front of the automatic door, talking earnestly into his wrist, triggering the sensor so that the door will not open outward from my side and kill him, as I would so dearly like to do at this moment.

I tap sharply on the glass, and he startles, surprised at the presence of other human beings in his world, before he moves off to one side with a partly sheepish, partly annoyed expression so I can leave.

Tuesday, March 2, 2021

A Letter To An Occupant

"Mail for you," our roommate sings, tossing the envelopes on the table.

"For me?" I exclaim in mock-delight.

"Well, mostly for Katie."

"This one says 'New York Resident,' so that's me," picking up one of the envelopes and waving it at him.

How To Hang Out

"I wanted to let you know I'm hanging out with my friend next Wednesday," Katie says as she puts in her contacts before leaving for work.

When I act confused as to why she's telling me this, she explains she wanted me to know for when she's gone that day, and I start laughing.

"Well, honestly, it just never occurred to me that you meant 'hanging out' like in person," I clarify, "I thought you meant that you were going to have a Zoom call."

Monday, March 1, 2021

Called Out

"Jammie, could you check on that document that Scott printed?" my manager says. As I move to the computer, I say, in what I think is a very polite tone, "Mind if I take a look?"

Apparently, I was not as mindful of my tone as I thought, because both of them start laughing, and Jammie says, "That means, 'Get the hell out of my way.'"

My manager, still laughing, agrees, "I try to tell him."