Friday, June 24, 2022
Thursday, June 23, 2022
It doesn’t look like it’s raining, exactly, but the ground is wet, and people are walking with umbrellas, so what I mean is that you can’t see the raindrops shivering the puddles, or see the trees getting hammered with giant drops that shudder the leaves. We figure we’re okay to walk to the post office without rain gear.
But it turns out it’s less rain, and more walking through a very low cloud, not quite so fine as to be fog. Our hair is soaked before we even get to the end of the block.
Tuesday, June 21, 2022
Sirens are commonplace on the block outside our front window, so we don’t look up from the video we’re watching as they wail down the street, growing louder as they go.
The heavy crash that follows startles us out of our reverie, though, and we leap to the window, only to have our view blocked by scaffolding.
In an instant, Katie is on her feet, shoes on, keys obtained, and out the door to see what’s up.
By the time I get down to the corner where the two ambulances collided, into each other and then one into a building, she’s already taking videos and making friends with other spectators, while lights flash angrily and twisted, exposed engine blocks steam into the night.
Friday, June 17, 2022
Thursday, June 16, 2022
The sale shoes are on several free standing racks out by themselves on the floor, and because humans when confronted by a sale tend to behave like savages, they are often in terrible disarray at the end of the night.
One of my salespeople and I are putting the bombed out sales racks back together, him on one side, me on the other, and the rattle of leather and rubber against the metal and plastic of the racks in the quiet of the empty store is sort of soothing, if that’s your thing. I hear, through the racks, my co-worker singing quietly to himself, not loudly, not particularly well, but nicely, just singing a tuneless little tune to pass the time.
My first thought, whenever I hear someone singing, is to remember how wonderful it is to sing, and to want to sing along, because singing is one of my life’s true joys, but I stop myself, and simply listen, enjoying the sound of his simple tune.
“It’s just, I have all these events,” she says in mild exasperation, “and I’ve been wearing nothing but comfy clothes for the last two years, but now I have to dress.”
“Well, maybe it’s better to think of it, not in terms of what you have to do,” I say, boxing up the shoes that she’s going to buy, “but what you get to do. Like you really haven’t been able to dress up for, what, two years now, but now you have these fun events that you get to go to, and you can kind of get fancy, and that can be fun.”
“A year ago, I would have been dreaming about going to a wedding,” she says, nodding.
Tuesday, June 14, 2022
Children strike heroic poses with cut up boxes for shields and nerf swords as their camp counselors herd them into two opposing groups facing each other across the park lawn.
“Back up, back up, back up!” one of the counselors yells, to little effect, until finally he gets his miniature battalions lined up behind their starting lines.
“Okay!” he shouts dramatically. “Five..., four..., threetwoonego!” and the spindly little kids on both sides scream bloody havoc and race toward each other to the resounding thwacks of duct tape covered foam beating on cardboard, and then it just sort of disintegrates into a bunch of little arguments about rules, and who’s out, and why.
Five-and-a-half hours floor watching in the shoe department - talking to people, solving problems, greeting customers, running back and forth.
At the end of the day, almost nine o’clock, I sit down for the first time in hours and lay my head on the counter. One of my employees who has aspirations toward management sits down next to me and contemplates my weariness.
“You’re starting meke me thing that maybe I don’t want to be a manager,” she says.
Monday, June 13, 2022
The DJ is playing “Dancing On My Own,” a true banger, but this version of it is... off.
Is it the tempo (a hair too slow, not enough to notice if you’re not paying attention, but enough to bum me out), or the incessant swooooOOOOOSH of phase effects, or the st-st-stutter of the vocals looped and repeated?
A bad DJ can make you hate a song you love, just by playing it wrong.
As I walk around the sales floor of the shoe department, I find myself singing a phrase over and over from the song “Panic” by The Smiths: “Hang the DJ, hang the DJ, hang the DJ....,” but no one hears over the blare.
Saturday, June 11, 2022
This faux nature documentary about dinosaurs is remarkably well animated, and the textures on the dinosaurs’ skins are so realistic that it’s easy to forget these animals died millions of years ago.
So when the tyrannosaurus rex male and female begin to nuzzle each other by the side of the river, it honestly starts to feel a little voyeuristic. And the artfully placed palm fronds do nothing to decrease our discomfort, despite concealing all the important details, when they actually show him mounting her.
"This is like the time I watched two pigeons mate while I got a root canal,” Katie says as she looks literally anywhere in the room but the screen, while David Attenborough narrates the murder of our childhood innocence.
Friday, June 10, 2022
Traffic along 7th Avenue in Brooklyn is thick, this time of day - cars double parked, drivers pulling out into intersections and blocking cross-traffic on red, all kinds of shenanigans. So it isn’t that big of a deal when the bus driver of the bus I’m in honks politely at the guy with his door open into traffic to let him know that we’re passing.
But instead of taking the honk as the gentle warning that it was, the guy scowls, glares at the bus as it passes, and then stalks alongside it to stand in front of us. He waves his hands angrily, then continues on his way, easily outpacing us due to the sluggishness of traffic.
Thursday, June 9, 2022
Wednesday, June 8, 2022
A warm day in late spring, and the whole world is breathing out sweetness. Trees that held their breath through the long winter exhaling green, sultry roses seducing the neighborhood with perfume, vines lifting their leafy faces to the sun - everything scented and filling the air with life.
We walk by an apartment building, and all the bins are out for garbage collection, and even that smell, the ripe pong of trash, isn’t the worst thing I’ve ever smelled. I don’t inhale too deeply, of course, but there’s a pungent flash of rot, a momentary spike of unsavoriness that’s almost immediately swept away in the gentle breeze, leaving nothing but a waft of dust and the smell of sun.
Monday, June 6, 2022
Saturday, June 4, 2022
Friday, June 3, 2022
Someone has left a mess on the cash wrap by the register, boxes and display shoes strewn everywhere, and I’m pretty sure I know who it is.
But when I ask her, she denies it, so, without accusing, I say, “Okay, you’re still going to be cleaning it up for your closer before you go home.”
A few minutes later, as she’s putting the boxes away, she says, “You know, I just remembered, these were mine.”
“I know,” I say, smiling.
Thursday, June 2, 2022
Tuesday, May 31, 2022
I put the penultimate load of things we’re moving to storage in the truck and, as I’m walking back, I pass a man staring down at his phone, and he’s doing the typical zombie shuffle of the hypnotically online, sort of meandering back-and-forth across the sidewalk, but I pass him much closer than a typical New Yorker would deem acceptable without any reaction from him, which automatically makes him suspicious. He continues to linger a little too close to the truck, so Katie stays downstairs to keep an eye on our stuff while I run back up to the apartment.
A little later, after we’ve finished loading and are driving the truck back to the storage place, Katie spots him again, this time crossing the street several blocks away from our house, and even as he’s crossing the street, he’s still staring into his phone, walking like he's mildly intoxicated. We decide that our suspicions of him were entirely unfounded, and he’s just really into whatever he’s watching on his phone, and, while his behavior is kinda creepy, he’s not a criminal or anything.
“Watch out,” the man mumbles as I swing the exit door outwards, nearly hitting him on my way out of the market. The syrup I was looking for was no where to be found, and I only have a couple of hours before my guests arrive, so I’m in a bit of a rush.
And anyway, I didn’t touch him, or even mildly inconvenience him, so what’s the big deal, and what was he doing walking on that side of the sidewalk anyway?
I’m a block away before I realize I’m having another argument with a person who isn’t even there, and who has likely already forgotten about me, to boot.
Monday, May 30, 2022
Sunday, May 29, 2022
The train is stopped between stations - somebody pulled the emergency brake and it takes awhile to reset it since apparently the whole thing has to be done manually - so here we are, waiting to move.
Katie holds my hand, her fingers tracing my index finger knuckle, ruffling the sparse hair and then smoothing it down again. This is the shape of my body, I think to myself, this boundary of skin in which my consciousness currently resides.
The guy across from us stomps his foot in frustration at the delay, but when I look up, he looks completely bored and still, as if he never moved at all.
Friday, May 27, 2022
The water in the shower runs warm down my body, and I close my eyes to feel it better. I flex my fists and breathe in steam and feel the boundaries of my body against the air and the water and the world.
The thought intrudes suddenly, bringing with it a certain regret, that one day, without a doubt, I will be dead, and that one day shortly after that one there will be no one who remembers that once I was alive.
“I really should start writing my Four Each Day again,” I think, and turn the water as cold as I can make it.
Tuesday, April 12, 2022
Thursday, April 7, 2022
It’s not so much fog as a cloud that’s lost it’s ambition, and all the streetlights and stoplights are simultaneously hazed and brightened, refracted into sharp electric halos that make me squint.
Two men walking down the sidewalk come upon a puddle. One steps around it, the other detours up on to the steps of the brownstone, effectively walking over it. Neither breaks stride, both seem perfectly content with their own way of handling the problem, neither seem to be perturbed by the way the other dealt with it.
Wednesday, April 6, 2022
As soon as the new cat tree is in its spot in the corner, the cats are checking it out. Wallace, the more intrepid of the two, grapples her way to the top with a grim resolve, while Davis sniffs tentatively at the base and lets her sister do reconnaissance. As their bravery increases, they slink between levels with athletic grace and occasional stubbornness, fighting small feuds with one another, parkouring to seemingly unattainable perches, and attacking the scratching posts with savage ferocity.
It takes us a good hour to get the thing fixed up so that it's stable and won’t fall to rubble under their delicate ministrations, and as I watch them finally sleep at the top, Davis slit-eyed and content, Wallace crashed out in oblivion, I find myself thinking about how Dad would put together my toys for me on Christmas, and if the singing in my heart is any indication of how he felt, I get why he tried so hard for me.
Wednesday, February 2, 2022
After the movie we walk the west side of the park toward home, strolling in that blissful clarity that often comes after a really good film, like you’re in your own movie, everything in focus and magically lit. The snow and the streetlights help, too, and the warm light from the brownstone windows glowing contentedly out into the cold night air.
Katie asks, “Is it hand-holding time?” which of course it is, almost always. It’s just a moment, the two of us together, her small hand in mine, walking down the sidewalk, forever.