Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Too Mainstream

"I was such a snob when I was a kid," I mutter. We're getting ready for bed after watching a short video about the band Pearl Jam. 

"This girl I knew once said the band I was in sounded like Pearl Jam, and I was so mad," I continue, "because I thought they were too mainstream."

"I mean, so did they," Katie replies.

Sunday, April 11, 2021

Normal?

"Things getting back to normal?" is the typical question, after we've established that customer is fine, I'm fine, we're all fine, and yes, things are super weird. 

And usually what I'll do is say that, yes, in fact, things are getting better - I'm making more money, selling more shoes, the days get busier, the floor is full of customers.

But that also means longer hours, longer days, more of the day-to-day difficulties of being in retail, which is both something that I really like to do and, sometimes, a little draining.

So, yes, things are getting back to normal, and we're still figuring out what that means, and if we want it to.

Saying What I'm Thinking

After the doors on the train open and close for the fourth time and we continue to sit in the station, people really start to get wise to the fact that something is going wrong, and the guy sitting across from me starts to mutter and curse, his apparently already bad mood threatening to sour into something more generally poisonous.

Take it easy man, no need to take it personally, I think, sort of to him, but mostly to myself.

"Don't worry, it happens to me too, man," a skinny white guy says with a resigned smile to the angry fellow. "That means it's not personal."


Saturday, April 10, 2021

Cops

I'm carrying the trash to the curb when I see the flashing lights of the first police SUV pulling up. It is quickly followed by a second, then a third one, and then a Fire Department ambulance, lights spinning, but no sirens, parking in front of the bank.

The police get out, purposefully but without any sense of urgency, and walk into the bank, and I head upstairs to find Katie in the kitchen washing dishes, where I tell her, "Cops are downstairs at the bank."

She's already heading for the door before I finish saying it.

Friday, April 9, 2021

Keep It To Yourself

"There's something cool about walking in the city at night," I say after returning from a late evening walk to the drugstore a few blocks away to get the cat her nightly meal.

"Especially since we live in the suburbs now, apparently, and nobody is on the streets," Katie agrees.

"Yeah, it's like, somewhere there's a spot where there's no more sidewalk, and beyond that there's just the emptiness of the continent, and in spite of all the millions of people between you and that point, there's a place where there's just no one."

"That's not something I want to hear right before bed," Katie replies.

Thursday, April 8, 2021

Tech

"What's going on?" Katie asks. I guess I must have sworn out loud.

"I was working on some formulas in this spreadsheet, and the computer just restarted before I had a chance to save it, but like, for the third time," I explain as the Apple logo appears yet again on the screen.

"Maybe it's time to start saving after every entry?" she says, only slightly sarcastic, patting me on the shoulder.

Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Saying Goodnight

The cat yowled about the cold all last night, so tonight before we go to bed, Katie asks me to shut the window at the front of the house, and to say goodnight to her plants. 

After I've closed the window and locked it, I dutifully go to each of the plants, saying goodnight to them individually, by name if I know it.

"Goodnight cane palm, swiss cheese plant, snake tongue, James Dean, fan palm, Wandering Dude, dolphin plant, Clooney. little palm tree, other little palm tree, guy on the hanging shelf."

Then, as I'm heading back to my bedroom, I call, over my shoulder as sort of any afterthought, "Alexa, goodnight," and all the lights turn off.

Psalms 19:1

Many years ago, when I was much more depressed than I am now, I thought that a good job for me would be to become an Episcopal Priest (since they could get married, have kids, work in a relatively liberal church, have housing, the whole thing).

For any number of perfectly good reasons, that's no longer a career path for me, but when you're an optimistic, enthusiastic sort, it's hard to get out of the habit of preaching to a non-existent congregation.

A beautiful day like today, with gentle breezes and fine, cheerful blue skies, with sunshine beaming down on freshly budding dogwood trees and daffodils, well, that could get anybody thinking kindly about a benevolent universe. Just walking down the street puts me in mind of singing a hymn, even just to myself.

Sunday, April 4, 2021

Stability

We lie on the grass in the riverside park beneath the mountainous bridge and a blue spring sky. My jacket is spread out under us to keep the new mud and grass from staining our clothes, and Katie lies back with my head resting on her side.

I stare up at the bridge, and I can feel the weight of it, the long-spanning tension of the cables that hoist up the roadway and distribute the load onto the towers looming above us. A train lumbers across the river and Katie remarks, "Something that heavy on it, and the bridge doesn't even move."

Aqua Reef, Bear Glove, Wolfthorn

The older woman standing at the counter when we walk into the drugstore hears us come in. It's a small store, and a straight shot from the front to the back where she's standing, so when she turns she can see us, and we can see her.

Katie doesn't seem to notice the woman, but something about her gaze, and the fact that she looks at me for a little longer than seems strictly necessary, unnerves me. While Katie walks up to the counter to pick up her prescription, I suddenly become fascinated by the names of Old Spice deodorants on the next aisle over and I casually sidestep over to read them more carefully, blocking myself from her view.

Saturday, April 3, 2021

Existential

My knee gives a small, sharp complaint with every step as we walk a few blocks to pick up a mid-century modern coffee table we've been gifted, but I ignore its protests and continue explaining this morning's existential musings.

"So I don't believe in reincarnation, but someday these cells will be a part of somebody or something that achieves consciousness, and I'll have to go through all of it again, all of the suffering of growing up and growing old, and that just sounds awful," I tell her.

"Yeah, everybody will, but you won't remember, and you're pretty happy now, aren't you?" Katie asks.

After a pause, I say, "That's a good point."

Friday, April 2, 2021

April Fools

I press my hand against the cold window to feel an intimation of the outside air. After a week of balmy spring sunshine and not-too-cold rainy days, the temperature crashing feels like someone pulling the rug out from under us. 

"Will my plant be okay?" Katie asks, looking at a delicate trailing one hanging in the window. After a moment's consideration, I take it from its hook and place it on the table, before Katie (with a look of concern) lifts it from the table and hangs it on another hook far enough from the front window to be safe from the cold, where its tendrils are free to dangle in peace.

Thursday, April 1, 2021

Deeply Resilient Infrastructure

On screen, an enormous nuclear-powered dinosaur trades blows with an enormous, ax-wielding ape across the cityscape of Hong Kong while Katie and I eat sushi (in honor of the lizard’s homeland) and drink banana-based cocktails (in honor of the ape). 

The architectural carnage (not to mention the actual carnage, which must be substantial, but is hardly ever shown) is catastrophic - buildings are used as weapons, as backstops from which devastating attacks are launched, as objects against which one’s opponent is smooshed.

As yet another neighborhood is demolished, I say matter-of-factly, “The global economy must be in shambles.

“I was thinking the exact same thing!” Katie exclaims, while in on screen Hong Kong, the power inexplicably stays on.