Sunday, June 29, 2014

The More Things Change, Part 2

The F train passes high above Brooklyn at this point, on its way to the highest subway station in the world. In the west, traffic passes back and forth across the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, but somehow in the benevolent light of sunset, everything seems serene and unhurried, even the 18-wheelers and the junkers and the pickup trucks.

"Hey, I haven't been here since they refurbished this station," I say as the train pulls in and stops at the platform. 

Everything looks new and shiny, but the mosaics that they use to show the station name look crude and shabby, not at all like the elaborate, sophisticated ones they made back when the subways were new.


The "room of requirement," really just a spare room in our apartment where we keep a lot of inconvenient stuff that we don't really know what to do with, is not living up to its name today. We've torn it apart, and we still haven't found Katie's bike helmet. 

Irrationally, I decide that if she doesn't have a helmet, I won't wear one either (though looking back now I'm having a difficult time seeing how that would help either of us).

Still, it takes me miles before I'm hypnotized enough by the road to lose the creeping sense of dread that one or both of us is going to die today because we didn't recognize the universe hiding Katie's bike helmet as a sign that we shouldn't go out today.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

The More Things Change

"That place used to be a French Roast," I say, pointing to a hideous new, faux-50's style diner complete with gaudy neon and chrome trimmed linoleum tables. "One night when I first moved here, I sat in there and ate a creme brûlée and watched it snow these beautiful, huge fuzzy flakes. New York is changing so much."

A few blocks further down we find the actual French Roast, still bustling and cute and very much a going concern.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

A Good Idea

The urinals are too close together, with no dividing wall, so I duck into one of the stalls to pee. It's a long one (I drank a lot of yerba mate this morning), and the other guy, who's finished before me, is adjusting his suit and checking his face out in the mirror as I emerge.

I begin washing my hands, doing a thorough job of it, with soap and all (in my head I'm also reciting the alphabet song, which I'm told is an appropriate amount of time to wash in order to get all the germs off), and I see, out of the corner of my eye, the other guy notice me doing so.

He thinks for a moment, and then reaches down and begins washing his hands, too.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

I Wish You Would Stay, 'cation.

Vacation's almost over. The air outside is warm and wet, the thickness of it barely mitigated by the occasional light breeze.

I walk down Fifth Avenue in the sunshine to the doctor's office yet again, where I've spent far too many days of this time off. To reward myself, I'll get a donut afterwards, and think about all the writing I got done, the World Cup games I watched, the days I got to sleep in and the nights I got to stay up talking to my wife.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014


I must have finally passed out on the couch, despite the hacking cough which is the reason I came out here to sleep in the first place.

When she realizes I'm not in bed she comes out to find me.

"Well," I say, "I knew you had to work tomorrow, so I figured you'd sleep better without me hacking away all night."

"Pookie, I don't care, just come to bed."

Monday, June 23, 2014


After I get our bikes upstairs, I flop on the couch and check my phone. Sure enough, there's a message, and from less than 10 minutes ago, too.

"Scott, it's Doctor A calling you," he says, his rich, maybe Israeli(?) accent coming through the tiny phone speaker. "Your blood work is on the upside of normal, but your ultrasound has some benign issues, which I need to talk to you about when you call tomorrow."

The Cat Prefers Chess, Maybe

Every time it looks like the US is going to score in their World Cup game against Portugual, we shout at the screen. My computer is hooked up to the TV and the game is in Spanish because we don't have cable, so the announcers are kind of excitable too, and the room gets loud.

It's a close game, so we end up shouting at the screen pretty frequently, and each time we do, the cat runs in panic from the room, skulking back to her perch beside the window only after it seems like we've calmed down.

"I wonder if she thinks we're mean people, always yelling like that," Katie says after another goal sends the cat racing to the kitchen.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Pushing Through

"I've taken all the drugs I can," Katie says. "Cough syrup, ibuprofen, birth control, and saline. I've got cough drops, and you've got tissues."

Let's go to the graveyard to see a play!

Separation Issues

My cold is really starting to mature, now, so I decide to take it to the park for a bike ride and a little time in the sun. Can't have it growing up all thin and pale, staying inside and playing video games all day.

I lay in the shade of a tree on a hill in the Long Meadow that runs down the center of this part of the park, watching folks lounge half-naked, stupefied by the sun. A woman sits with her Portuguese Water Dogs a few yards away, and one rolls in the grass, while the other perches alertly in her lap, spooning her as close as he possibly can.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Dr. Albert is Friendly

"Well, I'm getting to be that age," I tell the doctor at my first real check up in more than five years. "My wife says that if I leave your office without you examining my prostate, I screwed up."

"I will tell you, we don't really do that for men anymore until they reach fifty or so," Dr. Albert says, smiling as he claps me on the shoulder. "But if you really want to, let me know."

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

When You Put it That Way

"You can just chuck that in the bin," the guy at the Mac store says, indicating my dead power adaptor for my computer. "And make sure you really throw it."

"Ah, I won't really throw it."

"How often do you get a chance to actually chuck a piece of computer equipment?" he says with a look of surprise.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Sick Thoughts

The yerba mate I ordered arrived today, and it sits on the counter, all inviting. I haven't even finished the last order - I mean, I'm almost done, but I want to try the new one. 

Now I feel shitty, because here's just one more thing that I haven't finished, like my book (which I'm taking a week off of my day job starting tomorrow to put a dent in), just one more thing I'm gonna half do, before some new shiny thing distracts me and I'm on to the next, leaving a trail of unfinished business behind me....

And then I remember that I've got a cold, and that I might be reading a bit much into things.

Monday, June 16, 2014

New Book In the Mail Today

Fool. I stayed up too late.

"Come on, man, it's eleven," Katie says, turning over and shoving earbuds into her ears.

My throat burns in anticipation of sickness to come.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Fatherly Advice

Sunshine day down by the pier, all the families out. He leans down with a smile to his daughter.

"The real monsters are mostly people," he says gently. "You'll learn."

Older Gentleman Flirting Cliches

Jeremy, who sells oragami on the corner, grins huge as I introduce him to Katie.

"Oh, so this is her? Tell me," he says, hooking a thumb in my direction, "how did you end up with this guy?"

As we're leaving, he gives Katie one last wink, "Remember, if you find yourself single, I'm available!"

Saturday, June 14, 2014


I should already be asleep. I can feel the incipient headache creeping up my neck to settle on the crown of my head as the booze leaves my body, while Katie breathes heavily beside me, asleep or passed out.

I put on Spacemen 3 and listen to Jason Spaceman moan about Jesus dying for his sins over distorted and delayed guitars, exactly the sort of regretful music that both inspires and pays for hangovers. It's late, and there's nothing to do but indulge more, or go to sleep and wake up tomorrow to finish the pain that I've only put off for a little while.

Thursday, June 12, 2014


A smarter person than me (not to set the bar too low) might make a fruitful career figuring out the fluid dynamics of a crowd of commuters on a packed 4 train during the morning rush hour. The combination of the impenetrability of solids with the psychology of personal space, multiplied by the square of all the caffeine per ounce of blood on the train, came together to give me about half the amount of space I might actually occupy in any other venue.

I was as close to the door as I thought I could be without actually being OUTside the train, so it came as some surprise when a slender, well shaped female hand, light brown and long fingered, came to rest upon my shoulder. The hand, attached to a person I could not see behind me, gripped tight for a moment, using me as sort of a lever to pull herself into the train, wedging herself into a gap I didn't know existed between my back and the doors as they slid closed.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014


"I wasn't mad at you," Katie says. "I was just trying to hear the dialogue without reaching for the remote, because you kept talking over what seemed like crucial parts."

I remember a friend of mine, from years ago, when we would ride in his car up to New Hampshire together. I would always try to get him to listen to these amazing songs and he would always talk over the best parts, and now I wonder if maybe, like me, he chatted over the good parts because he didn't want all those uncomfortable emotions, or if he just wasn't paying attention.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Dogs Doing Things

The spaniel crossing the street, in the crosswalk, suddenly cops a squat and begins shitting as the cars turning pause in horror. He looks baffled and ashamed at his own actions: "terribly sorry, I have no idea how this happened, please don't look at me like that." His owner has to drag him out of the way of oncoming traffic, leaving a trail of tidy turds.  

A girl in beige spike heels strides into the intersection without looking down, and miraculously misses each of the little bombs, as if they weren't even there.


Monday, June 9, 2014

Tell it Like it Is

"Yeah, that video's looking tight, son," the guy behind me at Bareburger tells his friend.

"'S ah-ight," the friend replies over the clinking of plates and the beep of the cash register.

"No, I mean, I feel you, but yeah, I see what you mean," the first guy says, and he looks a little uncomfortable.

"I mean, I'm gonna tell you what's up," the friend says sincerely.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

The Horror of Remembering/The Terror of Forgetting

"I know you don't remember being there, but I'm going to say two names that will bring it all crashing back: Shelley and Siobhan."

And come crashing back it does, along with all the stupid things I did as a kid, some twenty-odd years ago. Cruel and thoughtless things, and things I thought would save my life, and things that I couldn't have explained at the time, that now I understand all too well.

Later, watching a show on TV, I see women done up in gigantic hair and fifties-style sequined dresses, and I think, "Thank god we never have to go back to the past, even if we could."


The sad, Eeyore-ish bookseller is setting up his table in front of the bank, slowly unloading his crates, stacking his books.

I stride by on the way to the store to pick up breakfast, but as always, my gaze strays to the titles. 

I keep moving, gritting my teeth, "I love your books."

He shrugs, continues unloading, calls after me, "Not enough."

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Boundaries (pt. 2)

The menu looks fine, but I don't want to eat here: the inside of the restaurant looks dark, and Katie already said she wants to eat al fresco.

"Do you just want to go back to the other place?" I ask her.

"I already told you I really don't care," she says, almost pleading with me.

"But I can tell you're not feeling well and if you're not happy it makes me kind of frantic."

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Spin Class Epiphany

The room is hot and dark, the music booming, building, my legs pumping. The coach is chanting along, "If you could get what you want by going two percent faster, would you do it?"

And I think, what do I want, what is calling me. 

All the time I've wasted doubting myself, giving less than my best, in so many ways, comes flooding back, and I find myself stupidly choked up, so I duck my head, push harder, knowing at least today, I didn't stop.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

The Dangers of an Audience

The nice, but slightly awkward guy from accounting managed to flip the switch on the coffee machine twice, and now my co-worker and I are cleaning the resulting disaster.

I'm ineffectually wiping up pools and puddles of coffee, more spreading them around than anything else, when she picks up a big wad of paper towels.

"Gotta use 'em like a maxi pad," she says, whacking them down on the counter into the brown, soupy mess.

I must have looked mildly shocked, because she cackles and says, "Yeah, go put that in your blog."

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Putting Off the Inevitable

We lie on the couch, wilted and sweltering, idly stroking the screens of our devices, playing meaningless games while the television drones away the evening.

"Should I put the AC in the window?" I ask the room. The cat looks up, slits her eyes in our direction, and lays her head back on the rug, exhausted with us.

"We won't need it after tonight, this week," Katie says, "but it is kind of inevitable."

Monday, June 2, 2014


The cookies are gluten-free, low calorie, low sugar, all natural, whole grain, yeast free, vegan, and organic. They are also, despite all this, delicious.

But the lack of yeast makes me wonder, and I ask Katie, "Can vegans eat...?"


Sunday, June 1, 2014


We haven't spoken in over a year, but I spot him about a block away, walking towards us on our side of the street.

"How do you want to play this?" Katie asks. She knows I sometimes have trouble with confrontation, even the possibility of it.

"It's fine," I say, and it really is, just saying hello on a sunny afternoon to somebody I used to know.

Love Minus One

Tired of sending so much money to Time Warner, we cut the cable many months ago. 

Now, though, when I stay up late into the lonely hours after midnight and watch videos on the internet, I miss the (probably illusory) comradery of finding the strange programs lodged in the niche networks and believing I might be watching them with someone else out there.

I could smile in sympathy, at least, with the imaginary guy or gal at the station, putting the tape in the machine and nursing his or her fifth coffee of the night through the grit and solitude of the graveyard shift.

I know there's almost no chance that another human being alive is currently watching Haircut 100's video for "Love Plus One" for the third time tonight, and this knowledge make me disproportionately sad.