Sunday, May 31, 2009

5/31/09 - Wyckoff part 2

We race to get to the Wyckoff House for the 3 PM tour, arriving with only 2 minutes to spare.  As we finish locking our bikes to the fence that surrounds the lot on which the wooden shack stands, a pleasant looking man decends from the mobile home/office that takes up the whole western side of the place.  He stands between plots of the small garden with a bland, curious smile on his face, as if he thinks we might have wandered in here by mistake.  

Even though it later turns out that we are the only people to visit this historical site all weekend, we urgently inquire as to whether or not we're on time for the tour, and the caretaker's eyes light up at our enthusiasm.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

5/30/09 - Everything must Go!

The sun, against all expectations, has come out to play today, and everyone seems to be out to greet it, wandering the streets in shorts and flip-flops, staring at all the stoop sales that have sprung up throughout Katie's neighborhood. It seems that the entire world has decided to sell off whatever they can this weekend, and we have quite the time negotiating the sidewalks, full as they are of blankets laid out with what will soon be someone else's treasures, but which, for the moment, are just somebody's trash with tags on it.

Katie and I sit on a bench and watch the dogs and their owners, babies and their parents, kids in sneakers and the invincible arrogance of youth jostling around in hysterical packs, and Katie talks about the winter turning into spring.

We've spent the winter, perhaps the last year, perhaps the last decade or so, accumulating poisons, fear, doubt, armor, anger, stuff we thought we needed but which now just holds us back and clutters our hearts and homes, and perhaps it's time to get rid of it, sell it on the street, bring it to the light, put it out with tomorrow's trash.

5/28/09 - In Central Europe, Joke Gets YOU

The two of them are clearly on a date: he is small, neat, impeccably dressed in a sharply starched (but fashionable) striped button-down shirt, his hair (receding though it may be) is cut close to his scalp, but styled and exactly so, his gold-framed glasses squarish but tasteful, his face is slightly pinched and his chin pointy, and his eyes cool and appraising, but not unkind. She is fuller, but not overweight, pretty, with full lips, big smile, brown eyes warm and intelligent, straight dark-brown hair sleek in a mid-length fashionable cut, but she doesn't look like she's trying terribly hard.

He speaks seriously to her something I can't quite catch in what sounds like a central European accent, until finally he finishes with, "...and it gets you."

He watches her, expressionless, as she considers this, her face questioning, until finally she breaks into her broad grin, and he smiles slightly, gratified that she understood his dry humor.

Friday, May 29, 2009

5/28/09 - Just Biking in the Rain (wham! wham!)

I ride home from Katie's in the rain, around 11:30 PM. It's less rain, and more a low hanging cloud that covers everything in moist and loggy. I barrel through it, getting increasingly wet, and my glasses, which I now wear more often due to an eye infection earlier this year, throw halos around all the streetlights and approaching car's headlights. I look over the tops of my glasses, and ride blind, but clear, switching back to the en-dewed lenses when I approach intersections, until I make it home, wet, breathing hard, alive.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

5/27/09 - Phhhhbtt!

The baby on the train is bored.  Nothing her mother can do is appealing, and she has gone through every toy, including the plastic Dora the Explorer doll, the squeaky hammer, the bubble gun, and the cell phone (which, after chewing on, she proceeded to push all the buttons on and dialed, I think, Ireland).  Katie and I catch the baby's eyes just as she is about to have an aneurysm and start really freaking out, and we begin making faces and sticking our tongues out.  The baby does what babies do, and begins to stick her tongue out, and just like that we've altered the photos her family will cherish for years to come.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

5/26/09 - Can't Make It

A baby cries on the train, a hoarse, angry cry, full of static. A woman's phone goes off and, for a moment, the ringtone is indistinguishable from the baby's coughing wail before it evolves into the trebly barking beats and synthesized sirens of the latest hip-hop. It breaks off in mid-cack-pop, cack-cack-POP as she answers it.

"Yeah, can't make it," she says.

5/25/09 - Water Taxi Washing Machine

The Water Taxi to Ikea sails us out into Buttermilk Bay and around the industrial ports and loading docks of Red Hook. Katie and Kevin and I stand on the upper deck, beneath a glorious, beaming sun, and watch the light dapple off the water in glinting sheets. The wind blows my uncut-in-far-too-long hair and whips it into my face, until, irritated, I sit back down and watch two people I dearly love laugh and talk as they lean on the rail. Kevin and I have spent the day walking though the concrete and too bright streets of downtown, but the wind and the beauty of the day, the smell of water and salt from the sea just a few miles away, erases the city and leaves us clean and joyful and grateful to be alive.

Monday, May 25, 2009

5/24/09 - Memento Divino

The Cathedral of St. John the Divine rises above us, massive and elaborate, every inch of the facade covered with visions of the apocalypse and a multitude of saints. Where other cathedrals may soar and yearn to the divine, this one seems to want to pull the divine down into it with it's sheer gravity, as though a sizable enough gravity-well was all that was needed to bring down the Godhead to our plane.

We wander through the incredible space, past pillars thick as redwoods and probably taller, past dozens of side chapels, each with their own light (this one multicolored and lush, that one all washed out in white and gold), when suddenly the chorus begins to practice for the evensong service. Kevin and I pause to listen for a while as they start and stop through various songs, their voices rising and swelling until the entire space is filled with sound, and Kevin says, "I think I like this better; when they stop you only get little bursts of divinity, and anything more would be too much."

Sunday, May 24, 2009

5/23/09 - Wycoff when you can sneeze?

The Wycoff Farmhouse was built in the 1600's, and is one of the oldest (if not THE oldest) structures in New York. It lies in a non-descript block in Brooklyn, surrounded by a small plot of green grass and what looks like a raised garden (heavy with flowers after this wet spring), all of which is in turn surrounded by a high wrought iron fence. When I rode to see it yesterday, I rolled right past, as it was so out of context with the rest of the block (a garage on one side, a ConEd substation across the street). I almost couldn't reconcile it with the garbage, the traffic, the two guys getting under a car with a jack, and if I hadn't known it was there, I might have missed it.

Friday, May 22, 2009

5/22/09 - They Will Soon Forget How Easy it Was

The kids playing in the field behind the Stone House in the Heights of Guam (see here for more info on that) are like dogs in the dog run. The two little boys and three little girls have found fluorescent orange tape that was used to rope off the grass while it was growing this spring, and they are playing tug-of-war and trailing it behind them in streamers of neon as they run, squealing, through the gradually falling dusk.

At first the boys and girls, who are from different families, circle around each other, the two brothers playing with each other, and the girls playing with the girls, until gradually the two groups fall in together, self-conscious for only a moment. One of the girls looks earnestly at one of the boys, both of them holding armfuls of bright orange, and says, "Do you want to play with us?"

Thursday, May 21, 2009

5/21/09 - Defeated, For Now

We stand in line at the DMV, waiting to get our numbers so that we can stand in yet other lines and pay obeisance at the various stations of the cross of this fine bureaucracy. This is the "Express" DMV, so we make our way up to the front relatively quickly, after I've filled out, and torn up, two stabs at the form because of various misreadings of the directions.

Lady behind the counter looks at us with almost no interest at all after we show her our papers and forms and sigils, and recite our magic formulas and ritual politenesses, until finally she cuts us short. "You," she says, pointing at Katie, "need your birth certificate, and you," pointing now with a long finger nail at me, "need your Social Security card," which things, of course, we do not have.

5/20/09 - We Are An Ingenious Species

The guy in Trader Joe's is one of those slightly embarrassing fellows that is just a little too chummy with the cashiers. I'm sure I'm one of those types of guys, myself, on occasion. He claims he's discovered a way of carrying two heavy grocery bags without "injuring his delicate hands" (his words, not mine).

As a couple of cashiers and I watch, he ties the handles of the bags together with another two bags, and with a heave proceeds to drape the entire unwieldy contraption over his shoulder, whereupon he mock bows slightly, acknowledging our (genuine) applause.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

5/19/09 - Easy, Killer (I'm just a little dog on a big ol' leash)

The threat of violence still seems to hang over the city like a gleam on a knife that you see out of the corner of your eye - turn to look at it straight on, and it's gone.

Does that seem overly dramatic? How else to explain, after over ten years of life in the city, that now I feel aggressive, overamped, angry at nothing, irritable, seeing slights where once I would have seen nothing at all.

A man walks his very small dog with a thick chrome-plated chain for a leash, and I say, "Thank God you've got him on that chain; no telling what he'd do otherwise," and thankfully, the man walking the dog laughs, too.

Monday, May 18, 2009

5/18/09 - My Feral Girlfriend Sustained No Injuries

Katie is walking down the stairs at the train station (this is before I meet her at my stop), and a girl is walking up the wrong side, and this girl says "watch where you're fucking going," and proceeds to get in Katie's face. Katie throws an elbow and continues on her way, followed by a now enraged and muttering girl. Katie turns around to find said girl brandishing a, and I quote, "puny" knife. Katie smiles and says, "I know two things: I know you're a cunt, and I know you're gonna lose."

Sunday, May 17, 2009

5/17/09 - I'm Everything You Ever Were Afraid Of

At the F Station in Park Slope on our way to the Aquarium in Coney Island, Katie and I wander along the platform waiting for the train. Suddenly she spots something at the other end of the station. "It, it, it, it, it," she says, pointing, eyes wide, and I follow her gaze, but don't see what she's pointing at.

She drags me down the platform, and after some discussion with a few folks, we spot it: a single red balloon, bobbing in the invisible currents of air over the train tracks, floating down the tunnel into the darkness and, presumably, the Deadlights.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

5/16/09 - If I weren't so emo, I might accidentally kick somebody's ass

While watching a fight between two adversaries on the TV show Deadwood, I am once again reminded of the violence that only in the last few years has become a part of my mental landscape. I find myself with a heart full of bloodlust, imagining foes, altercations, assaults, wanting to fight, carrying around a pen knife, wondering if today on the way home from the train I will need to use it on someone.

This is new for me, but I suppose I have always had it. It explains my former depressions, my black moods and despondency, which I thankfully have much less of, but which must have been nothing more than an already extant violence in my soul, which I formerly turned inward because I could not accept that it was part of my "good boy" personality.

Friday, May 15, 2009

5/15/09 - I talk too much (again)

Last night at the opening meeting for the project I'm currently working on Shay remarked that I was actually the tallest person there. While not an unusual situation (I'm over six foot three), I once again began obsessing out loud about how much weight I feel I've gained in the past 6 months, as if this were somehow relevant to the discussion. The other very tall fellow in the room is rather slim, much as I was a couple years back, and was kind enough to say that it must be muscle mass from my riding my bike everywhere.

And once again, I am obsessing in public about the state of my weight, talking too much, and being a bit of an embarrassment.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

5/14/09 - Until Blogger Gets Its Shit Together

I used to be at, but I forgot my password and the workings of Blogger are capricious and arbitrary, so I'll be here for the time being.

My usual modus operandi is to start with a brief word about the weather (grey and forboding, as it has been on and off for the past several weeks), and, from there, segue into some mystical shit (say, a meandering bit about how the darkness is giving way to light and the sunshine will be here soon, and isn't it just like our souls as we work our way towards the stripping away of all the muck and murk that we put there) - but you know, today, I say "fuck it." I'm really not in the mood to be upbeat.

It's not that I'm particularly down right now, either, I'm just really not feeling like being all deep and everything, and so the rain that came down this morning must be, as it always is, not really a symbol for anything, but only and completely itself.