Tuesday, July 16, 2024

Killing The Killer

Out of the corner of my eye, I see a tiny fly in the air above the couch where I’m writing. When I look directly at it, though, it’s gone.

I catch a glimpse of it again, so when I see something moving on my chest, I react without thinking and smack it.

When I lift my hand, though, I realize it’s not a fly that I’ve killed, but a spider, and my heart sinks.

Inspired

“Your wife has a studio!?” my physical therapist asks. He’s usually very calm, but something about my mention of Katie’s art studio has gotten him excited.

He watches me intently as I explain her workspace and her business. “I’ve never talked to anybody here about this,” he says shyly after I’ve finished, “but outside of work, my real interest…, my passion, is photography.”

Sunday, July 14, 2024

Slow day

The guy on the e-bike pulls in front of me as I turn on to Sixth. I follow behind him for a bit, my excessive politeness keeping my natural competitive streak in check, but finally I just can’t stand it anymore.

I push on the accelerator and pull wide around him. There’s no traffic, and no problems, I just zip around him and it feels good to not worry about what other people think.

Undercover

We’re waiting for the light under the BQE when Katie points to a car parked on the sidewalk across the street.

The parking job is a real dick-move: it’s unnecessary (a summer weekend in NYC means everyone is out of town, leaving plenty of spaces and no need to park on the actual sidewalk) and completely inconsiderate in the way that it takes up so much room that it blocks anyone from actually being able to walk on the sidewalk without having to go into the street. Plus the car has this very aggressively macho-muscle-car look to it, with a gray paint job and dark, dark tinted windows.

“That’s a cop,” Katie says, and then repeats it: “That’s a cop.”

Friday, July 12, 2024

The Law of Attraction

As we coast down the hill toward the intersection, I wish for a green light and, way down at end of the block, as if in response to my wish, the light obediently turns green. I also know, with absolute certainty, that we’ll make it through no problem, and sure enough we slip through, barely even slowing down, only to be caught at the next long stoplight a block later.

When I mention how much I love catching a green, she agrees, adding, “But I’m sure that’s gonna be the intersection where I get straight-up t-boned from somebody just ploughing through a red light.”

“Yeah, let’s not manifest any unwanted experiences in our lives,” I say, nodding ruefully.

Horror Books

“These books are heavy, off putting, and have a good chance of making you dry heave!” Katie says, quoting a book recommendation video, then she repeats it. “A good chance of making you dry heave!”

“It’s not for me,” I say, waving my hand.

“I mean, maybe I’ll like something on it,” she says, pressing play.

Wednesday, July 10, 2024

They Were Just Trying To Be Nice

Two pretty young women rolling a bright yellow cart stacked with thin, glossy paperback books and craft materials rattle up to me as I sit in the waiting room for my doctor’s appointment.

“Would you like to do an activity while you wait?” one of them, an asian woman with long black hair, asks. Her expression suggests that, while concerned in a friendly sort of way, she takes a certain pleasure in demonstrating her concern, but wouldn't want to show either her concern or pleasure in a way that was too obvious.

I’m polite, midwesternly so, and I smile, showing none of the rankling I feel at their (entirely inadvertent, and probably felt only by me) condescension in treating me like I’m some sort of child who needs to be entertained and distracted by crosswords or origami or macaroni art, and I just say “No thank you,” indicating the book I was reading before they walked up, and they smile back and nod and roll on, content and secure in their beneficent goodness. 

Customer Service

“And before we finish this call,” says the customer service rep on the phone, “can I just ask, purely for my own nosiness, what kind of art your wife makes?”

I mean, it’s the reason why I mentioned it in the first place, so I tell him her website, the name of the piece we’ve been discussing, her insta handle, the whole thing.

I hear him typing and then he says, “Oh wow….”

“I didn’t think I’d see anything as beautiful as that today,” he says, his voice softening from his customer service voice to something gentler, more emotional, more real.

Monday, July 8, 2024

MRI

After they’ve strapped my feet together and attached me to the machine that will pump a chemical into my veins that allows the bigger machine to read my insides with greater accuracy, after they’ve put plugs in my ears to ensure I don’t go deaf from the buzzing mechanical symphony of physics and enormous magnetic fields that will see through my skin like a man looks through a window to check the weather, after all of this preparation for what is effectively a miracle of science..., we hit a snag.

Now three people are futzing with the table upon which I am trussed and blanketed, raising it, examining the readout, lowering it, shoving it into place with a jarring clunk, consulting, shaking it back and forth, wiggling it, several more clunks and finally a smooth slide into place.

You know that feeling when the ride operator at the carnival checks the straps and the shoulder pull-down bar, just to make sure everything’s kosher, before the chair upon which your very life depends lifts off at ridiculous speed to spin you through space, but you notice when he does it he has to really shake it once or twice, like maybe he’s not entirely confident, but finally he leaves it, because, you know, good enough? I have a brief moment of trepidation as the open maw of the machine receives me and the cacophony of the scan begins.

Think Small

I’m hanging out with Katie in her studio (which is really only set up to comfortably hold one person) seated behind a desk about a foot-and-a-half away from her as she works. We often joke about how it’s a good thing we’re obsessed with each other, because we spend an awful lot of time right up in each other’s business. 

But when I need to get up, I feel like an enormous, clumsy lummox, gingerly rising, being as careful as I can to not accidentally knock over the tools and supplies she’s surrounded herself with to do her job, and I wince as I try to get stiff muscles to move with a dancer’s grace that I didn’t possess before I had cancer, let alone now.

She looks up from her work to watch me sympathetically but without pity, and says, “Yeah, it’s a little crowded in here.”

Sunday, July 7, 2024

Scooting Big and Tall

I love riding my scooter - with my leg banged up, riding a bike is tough, so it’s the easiest way to get around for the time being.

But occasionally, I am confronted by the limits of the technology, namely that I am kind of a big dude, and  maybe tending towards the upper limit of the weight that your average scooter can bear.

So sometimes, on a hill, say, or even just from a standing start at a stoplight, the little electric motor that makes the scooter go vroom has to do a little more work than it might like, and even though it never complains… I know.

And I know I’m at an okay weight for my height, but when my scooter starts to chug going uphill, man, I kinda take it personally.

Friday, July 5, 2024

Belt And Suspenders Kinda Gal

“This is the place”: Katie sets down the furniture dolly and points to the brownstone sheathed in scaffolding. We’re both slick with sweat and tired of walking, but this is our only stop before home - we’re picking up a little shelving unit someone’s giving away to put in the living room. 

A young, blonde, slightly disappointed looking woman brings the shelves down the wide front stairs and, seeing the dolly, compliments us on being prepared.

As Katie straps the unit to the dolly with bungee cords (also brought by us for just this purpose) I can only think that this lady obviously never met my wife.

Thursday, July 4, 2024

Giving Up

Four boys running across a field, three of them moving well in a small pack - legs pumping, chests out, heads high, pure joy in forward motion.

The fourth is slower and runs like someone unaccustomed to the task. My eyes flick back and forth between them: the sprinters surging, reckless with laughter, encouraging each other to greater speed, while the kid at the rear falls further and further behind, his every effort seeming only to slow him down more.

He persists even as he slows until finally his stride subsides into kneeling, into falling, into laying out flat, arms akimbo, face down on the grass.

Ice It

The chiropractor has me turn on to my back, and he lays hands on my arthritic knee with a firm assurance.

“Let’s just get this…,” he says, and then, giving it a practiced push, he puts my knee back in place.

There is a painful pop, and warmth and what feels like an electric shock zaps up my leg and straight out the top of my head, causing me to yelp involuntarily.

“Okay,” he says gently, “I was not expecting that to be quite so intense, so I’m gonna suggest that you take it easy for the next few days.”

Wednesday, July 3, 2024

Poetry of The 6 Train Conductor

Once again to all my beautiful people aboard this train
this is your uptown uptown Bronx bound
Six train to Pelham Bay.

Yes you can transfer to your D and M train - take the stairs at the north end north end of the platform, and have a blessed and beautiful day

Tuesday, July 2, 2024

Reading The Room

The quiet reading event that has taken over the backyard of this Brooklyn Bar is about to start when the young couple walk in. 

And who can blame them? Yesterday’s heat and misery has given way to the kind of perfect day that New Yorkers keep secret from their friends who don’t live here, and the careless blue sky above the buildings is dotted with perfect meringue clouds - if I were young and on a date with a girl I just met who I wanted to impress, I’d sit outside too.

But when the event starts, and the backyard goes *really* quiet in that heavy way it does when a bunch of people are reading, and the guitarist the event organizers brought in starts playing a jazzy solo instrumental of “Still Crazy After All These Years” the couple seem to get the hint and beat a hasty retreat.  

Monday, July 1, 2024

Mild Chaos

The rain starts with a few fat drops spattering down, but it’s only a few blocks before the sky opens up and gutters start to run. We huddle under a tree for a few minutes before the downpour overwhelms the leaves, and we break for cover of a bus shelter as the splashes from the raindrops hitting the wet pavement make it look like it’s raining upwards. 

We sit on the bench watching the storm roll across the city; lightning flashes and grumbles at us, and we see bedraggled celebrants walking by, still thrilled at Pride month, in rainbow stripped outfits or carrying Pride, laughing and enjoying the rain.

I watch the tops of the buildings, thinking about my family, my mom and sister, and enjoying the mild chaos.