Thursday, May 30, 2024

School’s (Almost) Out

The playground for the “Hellenic Classical School” is a half-block of 18th street between Fifth and Fourth Avenues that they’ve cordoned off with matte steel crowd-control fences, and since we seem to have arrived at recess, we have to get off our scooters and walk them on the sidewalk beside where the kids are playing.

The street is riotous with kids being kids: a game of baseball has spilled onto the sidewalk and we almost get beaned as we pass; several simultaneous games of what might be tag, but could also just be girls chasing boys to try to get the boys to chase them, roil across the blacktop; two long-haired girls huddle in the shade, their knees folded up to their chests, their faces pale and grave as they discuss whatever solemnities grade-school girls discuss. 

Another scrum of children tumble onto the sidewalk, and a lone woman, sturdy and blonde and harried looking, yells at them to stay in the street. “You’re doing a good job,” Katie says to her, and the woman smiles a defeated, slightly feral smile before putting her attention back on the chaos in front of her.

Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Pick That Up

“If you like that one, she’s got a shorter book called Ceremony that’s supposed to be very good, but I haven’t read it,” I tell Katie.

“It is good,” a voice in the hall outside her studio calls, and I stick my head out to see a young woman, another artist, sitting on the floor a few doors down. 

“Yeah, I haven’t read it,” I repeat, “but I have been to a party at the author’s house,” I continue, realizing as I say it what a schmuck I sound like.

As she makes a la-di-DA kind of face, I quickly bend over and mime picking something up, adding, “Oh, hey, dropped that name, let me just grab it, there.”

Tuesday, May 28, 2024


Katie’s alma mater has this weird connection to bricks which I’m not going to go into here - it’s long and not very interesting - but suffice to say that it’s one of those bits of information that sort of sticks in one’s brain, to the point that I think about it whenever I see buildings made of brick.

Because you don’t see buildings made of bricks very much these days, since it’s easier to make them out of steel frames and concrete, cheaper too.

So as I’m sitting in the courtyard of the building where Katie has her studio, enjoying the sun and watching the planes overhead glide down the sky on their approach to LaGuardia, I saw starlings and sparrows flying up into little nests where the bricks on the facade had fallen away. And I couldn’t help thinking about what this buliding used to be, back when they made entire buildings out of brick - maybe a factory, or an office building - and what will happen in the future, when we’re all gone, and the birds take the place over, and the planes are gone, and the vines start pulling the bricks down, one by one.

Monday, May 27, 2024


“I’d like to order a thunderstorm,” Katie says plaintively. The light from the front windows is gray and sallow.

“Sure, you can ask for whatever you want, but maybe don’t be too attached to the outcome, you know?” I reply, and she does her best not to pout.

Not five minutes later, the little home assistant lights up with an alert: “The national weather service has issued a Severe Thunderstorm Watch for Park Slope, beginning...,” and Katie turns to me with a look of triumph and joy, her arms raised in victory above her head. 

Sunday, May 26, 2024

The Truth Of Sports

A boy with a rugby ball throws it underhand, granny-style, straight up into the blue sky over the park, putting a spin on it as he does, and catches it as it comes down. He does this over and over, trying to get it to go higher with each throw, showing no signs of boredom or weariness.

I get why people like to watch other people play sports. There is something so pure in the concentration, so completely unaffected and authentic, that it becomes like seeing a person’s soul, in a way that they would never let you see it otherwise.

One Wing To Rule Them All

“It’s like Sam and Frodo going to Mordor,” I say looking at the sky. This is not a new thought, though maybe the first time I’ve shared it with Katie, about the way the sky looks when it’s overcast in a particular way - it’s the way I’ve always described it to myself, ever since I was a kid.

Katie’s face is carefully composed, betraying nothing, but she knows when an info dump is coming, and, graciously playing her part, she says, “What’s that?”

“Well, the sky, it sort looks the way I imagine the sky looked over..., oh what is that place..., Ithilien, right after Faramir lets Sam and Frodo go on toward Mordor after he catches Gollum at the forbidden pool, you remember the forbidden pool?” I begin, and we’re off, cheerfully striding on our own quest down the Brooklyn streets to pick up Buffalo Wings for dinner.

Saturday, May 25, 2024


We’re standing outside Katie’s studio, waiting for the car to come pick us up and take us to our storage locker. A couple blocks uphill from us, I can see the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, one of Robert Moses’s great monuments to his vision of car culture for the city - a huge elevated expressway that cuts through the heart of the boroughs, with almost no regard for the neighborhoods that subsist underneath it.

From where we’re standing I can see - high above the broken down cars and graffitied garages, above the piles of trash and broken sidewalks - rivers of cars flowing up and down the BQE, turgid and slow one direction, swift and streaming the other, both ways shining and flashing in the sun. 

“You know, we can see them up there, but they don’t even think about us down here at all,” I say, and Katie looks up at them flying by, and nods.

Friday, May 24, 2024

Getting Up To Watch The Storm Come In

An alert glows ghostly on the smart-home assistant, but the dark room this late in the morning when I awake tells me all I need to know: storm’s coming.

I wake Katie in the eerie darkness, knowing she won’t want to miss the thunder and lightning when it arrives. She comes out of sleep groggy and disheveled, pulls the leopard-print eye mask over her tangled locks, and sits blinking on the side of the bed.

I explain the coming weather encouragingly, and after a couple minutes, she takes a deep breath, stands, and trudges to the kitchen to make coffee.

Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Losing Confidence

“You seem like you know which one is best,” he says in lightly accented english. We’re both standing in front of the decongestants, looking at the little cards they make you take up to the pharmacist in place of boxes since people use the good stuff (pseudoephedrine) to make meth.

I explain to him that the stuff that you can buy off the shelf (phenylephrine HCL) has been shown in recent studies to be about as effective as a placebo, but then, in the middle of my explanation, I become suddenly shy - like, what if I’m misremembering the studies, or what if he’s allergic to pseudoephedrine and him buying the real stuff actually kills him?

“...which is why I buy it, anyway, but, you know, your mileage may vary,” I trail off lamely, even as he continues to nod enthusiastically.

Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Missing It

Six P.M. means it’s time to feed the cats, so I get up from the couch where I’m watching Rick and Morty because Katie is out for the evening so I can watch stuff she doesn’t like, and head to the kitchen.

The cats have pretty much cleaned their plates from this morning’s feeding, so I could just open up a can, plop half down on each plate, and get back to watching TV - cats wouldn’t care, no big deal.

But then I think, why am I in such a rush to get back to my life?

Now I’m talking to myself as I pick up the plates and start washing them, saying, “Man, this is your life, right here, and you’re missing it.” 

Monday, May 20, 2024

Good Luck

“I don’t get as much traffic when you’re with me,” Katie says as we’re stopped on our scooters at the light on the way home from her studio, and she’s right - the streets seem quiet and empty for a Monday evening. “You’re my good luck commuting buddy!”

I feel a sudden pang of anxiety: what if mentioning it breaks the spell, and in typical parable style now, instead of being a good luck charm, I become an albatross, attracting all the cars in increasingly dangerous and malevolent ways.

“Yeah, it’s like when we’re taking airplanes,” I laugh, concealing my nerves, knowing that the only way to keep God on His toes is to pretend he doesn’t scare me. 

Sunday, May 19, 2024

Take Up Thy Bed and Dance

I get tired more easily than before, these days, but I’m learning to take more rest instead of pushing myself and paying for it later, so we’re sitting on a bench in the shade as the vendors for the street fair finish setting up. The smells of roasting corn and grilling sausage mix in a delicious aroma, a familiar smell that reminds me of running around carnivals and fairs when I was a kid, and I close my eyes, inhaling, and remember.

Behind us, on the playground, a band starts playing a jazzy, upbeat tune that sounds a bit like the music they play at a funeral in New Orleans - snare drum, trombone, saxophone, and a tuba holding down the bass. The music gets louder and louder, until the players march out of the gate, followed by costumed adults dressed as fish and other undersea creatures, and then a whole bouquet of children carrying enormous paper flowers on tall wire stems, and Katie and I are smiling as the group marches out into the street; my weariness lifts, and I can almost imagine getting up and dancing along.

Saturday, May 18, 2024

Gang Activity II

“What’s going on with those two birds and that hawk?” Katie asks, pointing over the trees toward the park exit. High in the sky, two, then three birds are whirling around a hawk soaring lazily above the treetops, swooping in and attacking the hawk’s tail or pecking at its head.

When we get underneath them, we can hear the screeches of the birds, now five, as they harass the hawk in order to protect a nest, or maybe just to be territorial assholes, and I say to Katie, “How are other people not seeing this?”

We stand under the battle, our necks craned, watching the birds press their assault until finally the hawk gives up on whatever it was hoping to accomplish and flies off, and the birds go back to whatever peaceful things they were doing on a lovely spring day.  

Friday, May 17, 2024

Pizza Bridges Divides

It’s early evening, I guess, but the cloud cover, an unsettled gray that leaves the air cool but clammy, makes it hard to tell just what time it might be. The slices of pizza we’re taking home smell heavenly, and Katie offers me the box to huff.

I take a huge whiff, and as i’m doing so, a woman comes out of her brownstone and we happen to lock eyes for an awkward moment as I’m nose deep in a pizza box in front of her stoop.

After a few frozen seconds, she gives us a big smile, waves hello, and we smile back and continue on our way, just two kids snorting pizza in the Brooklyn dusk.

Thursday, May 16, 2024

Life In The Old Bones Yet

“The crowd seems really… young,” my friend Rick says. We’ve found a place to perch while the band continues pummeling the audience, me resting my knees and hips, Rick resting his feet.

“Guess we should get used to it,” I say, and then the band hits a blistering climax, rising up in a crescendo fit to lift the rafters. Something in my heart that does not know my age pushes me to my feet, and I’m back out on the floor, swaying in the waves of sound, feeling the bass drum rearrange the rhythms of my heart. 

Wednesday, May 15, 2024

“The movie theater I used to work at was razed to the ground,” Katie says, slashing with her hand like she’s chopping down a tree.

“Oh yeah,” our friend John says, “mine was just abandoned, so....”

They continue regaling each other with horror stories of teenage labor, but my mind leaps ahead, far into the future, imagines the places we worked like dogs, or played as kids, the buildings we used to dream and eat in, the churches we sat in on Sundays, bored and far from transcendent, the schools we escaped or hid in, all the places that shaped us with their constrictions or carved us with their sharp edges, all of them decaying, empty, built over, or simply gone to grass in an empty field as if they never were.

A cold wind blows through me as I come back to myself, sitting on the couch in my cluttered, happy home, returning from a world I will never see.

Tuesday, May 14, 2024

As Others See Us

I’m thumbing through my phone in search of a photo to give the hairdresser that might show her the way to correct the mop I’m currently carrying around on my head. I’ve worn my hair long for most of my life, but with the white coming in and the coarseness of it all, the length serves only to make me look kind of old.

Katie holds up her phone, a picture of me from a wedding a couple years ago on the screen, saying, “You’re very handsome in this one.” 

It’s not bad - the five-head, the crows feet, the crooked grin, all look like me, but like a seriously uncool version - but I suddenly realize that what I consider the cool version of me may not be the one she actually fell in love with, or married, and may have been seriously overrated (by me).

Monday, May 13, 2024

My Dad’s Love Language

My father, who died three years ago, used to give gifts of tech on major holidays, some practical (a printer, a laptop) and some whimsical gifts he probably would have bought for himself, like a battery powered wine aerator he got us after he took a wine class.

When the printer he got us finally gave up the ghost, light on the front blinking a yellow warning, screen banded angry red, tumbling thunks shaking the interior, we tried various means to revive it, to no avail.

I knew he wouldn’t be gifting us another printer, so we bought a new one, and that’s okay.

Every day, remnants of ourselves disappear from the world, but if we’re lucky, someone remembers.

Sunday, May 12, 2024

Degrees Of Batman

The drizzle isn’t enough to keep up indoors, but it makes for a dreary walk to the subway.

“I think I slept wrong,” I tell Katie, attempting (and failing) to turn my head to demonstrate as we trod down the wet streets.

“Feel like you’re looking around like Batman?” she asks.

“Yeah, but it’s only George Clooney Batman, not like Val Kilmer Batman.” I reply. 

Saturday, May 11, 2024

The Drugstore

“Now you know I’m not trying to work you as soon as you come in,” the manager of the drugstore is saying to one of her employees in the next aisle, and although I can’t see his face, I can feel his expression. “But I am out of people,” she continues, “and I got too much to do.”

They’re playing “(I Had) The Time Of My Life” over the speakers and the guy in front of me in line at the register seems to be grooving along, dancing and really getting into it. Then I notice that he’s got little white headphones sticking out of his ears. 

Friday, May 10, 2024

You Take What You Can Get

Katie and I are grabbing lunch from the frozen food section in the dollar store near her art studio. The pickings are slim, but we find a couple of items ($1.25 a piece!) and stand in the only open register line, waiting to pay.

“Whoa, they got kombucha at the dollar store?” a man behind me in the drinks aisle says.

After a moment he continues, “Well, it probably ain’t good kombucha, but I’m getting it.” 

Thursday, May 9, 2024

The Youth Do Not See Us

The couple sitting across the car clearly thought that this end of the subway would be a good private place to have their argument, and her body vibrates like a spring with barely suppressed tension.

“It’s just, no let me finish, just why do you feel the need for me to be small around your friends?” she seethes, and Katie tightens her grip on my arm while we conscientiously direct our eyes to anywhere but them.

Later, as we’re walking home from the subway, I remark, “It’s like we weren’t even there.”

“And by the way, congrats to us on becoming invisibly middle-aged,” Katie adds, high-fiving me.

Wednesday, May 8, 2024

“Mid” In More Than Just Size

As we scoot down 6th Avenue, we pass an utterly unremarkable parked white car. Imagine a sedan - it looks exactly like that, bulbous, thick and heavy, boring and mildly ostentatious, only remarkable in one detail: it’s a Jaguar.

I tell Katie about it at the next stop light, and she says, “If you’re going to pay that much for a car that says ‘Jaguar,’ it should actually look like a Jaguar!”

“It looks like a Taurus!” I reply.

Tuesday, May 7, 2024

Keep Trying

The meditation must be working I think to myself as I read. I can really feel myself able to concentrate and understand what I’m reading, without that annoying drifting off I always do.

You know, soon I’m going to be able to read and think even more clearly, and cogently - it’s really like that movie, what was his name, that guy, he was in that other movie with Lady Gaga, did he sing on the song with her? I think he did, but really she was carrying him, for sure, I wonder what it was like working with her, like was she nice, I feel like she wouldn’t be nice, exactly, no one gets to a place of power like that by being nice, like people who have money, they know it, and they....

I’ve read the same two lines over and over without having any idea what they mean.

Monday, May 6, 2024


LL Cool J drives the computer animated beer train in the commercial, bringing frigid winds and a rime of ice to everything he passes before hurtling the train through the wall of this nice man’s house in a hail of rubble with a silly quip and an enormous, cheesy grin - deeply uncool.

“I always think of Shakespeare, Benedict in Much Ado, when I see rappers selling out like this,” I tell Katie, who’s on her phone, studiously ignoring the ad. “’When I said I would die a gangster, I did not think I should live to be so old!’”

“Or so rich!” she adds.

Sunday, May 5, 2024


I’m in the kitchen, washing up after dinner, listening to my new favorite song. It gets to the bridge, his voice rises from a desultory baritone up into soaring, heart-rending heights, and I want Katie, who’s also in the kitchen, to hear it.

I had a friend, years ago, who didn’t care all that much about music, always talking over the best parts, or worse, just ignoring some songs altogether, so I got into the bad habit of pointing out my favorite parts to get his attention, which often led to me talking over the good parts.

Today I just turn off the water so I can hear better, and the good part fills the room - her ears work, so why make a big deal out of it?

Saturday, May 4, 2024


I’ve been reading too much lately, and not writing enough.

Eating too much, and not cooking.

Talking too much, not listening.

So I made ice cream from scratch, which took hours, just to feel like I accomplished something; it was delicious.

Friday, May 3, 2024

Mother’s Day Is Coming

The brownstones on either side are staid and respectable, but in the middle of the block, constructed in the same style, stands an entirely different beast altogether.

A padlocked high fence encircles an overgrown front yard, and all the windows stare out on this residential Brooklyn street with blind, boarded-up eyes, but it’s really the facade that sets this seemingly uninhabited three-story building apart. Back in what looks like the nineties, to judge by the artwork, someone, or several someones, covered the entire front of this building in graffiti - flowers transforming into tessellated birds, into abstract line art the color of the patina on the Statue of Liberty.

On the top floor, almost invisible from where i’m standing on the street, there is a portrait the height of the entire floor of a woman in a tank top, smiling a little awkwardly, and I can’t help but think she might be the one referred to in the small heart by the door on the first floor, inside of which is written the word “Mom.”

Thursday, May 2, 2024

Waves Come In, Waves Go Out

Some kids on the Long Meadow are playing Ultimate Frisbee, 3-on-3, not pros or anything, just for fun, and one of them makes a decent catch.

Some older kids walking past start clapping, making a big deal about the catch, and it takes me a few seconds (because of the way my brain works, or doesn’t) to realize they’re being sarcastic.

So now my sense of justice is engaged, and I’m furious, absolutely livid, and I spend the next fifteen minutes walking through a gorgeous day, blue sky, new spring leaves, yadda-yadda, just fuming, rehearsing all the things I’d say, ruminating over the terrible things people have said to me, suddenly I’m thinking about videos of people having fights on subways and outside bars, and I arrive at Dog Beach without having seen anything of the intervening walk.

I sit in the sun, I read, I watch a dog that doesn’t like getting wet overcome her fear and go in up to her chest to retrieve a ball, my breathing slows, I take a sip of water, then another.

Wednesday, May 1, 2024

She’s The Boss

Even with a cane, I’m still moving pretty well down the stairs at the theater, but the official-looking woman carrying the orchid doesn’t seem to think so - she bounds impatiently past us, down the wrong side, and disappears into the office.

The line to the ladies room is pretty long, and takes up most of the lobby, but here’s orchid lady to boss everyone around. “Okay everybody, move to the right, doing great, move to the right, move to the right, doing great, doing great,” she says patronizingly. 

I try to imagine what it’s like to feel such ownership over a place that you can see the people for whom it’s made as an annoying hinderance to its smooth function, but when I watch how slowly most of the people move, how some of them stand around in the middle of things, uncomprehending, I guess I kind of get it.