Friday, January 30, 2015


"Why are you humping the bed?" Katie asks - a legitimate question, since that's exactly what the dog is doing.

"She's showing dominance," I say, deadpan. "Let that bed know who's boss."

"I'd rather see you try to hump the cat," Katie says to her.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

It's a Living

The office birthday cake looks like a crime scene after I'm done carving it up. I have no idea how anyone thought that I was the guy for the job on this, because I always seem to make a hash of it: too big pieces for some, too small for others, and all of them in ruins, slapped on flimsy paper plates and slid across the giant conference room table to the bored and ravenous.

Afterwards, I slump into my filthy office chair, sweat gathering in the hollow of my chest, exhausted from jumping around to entertain my fellow cubicle jockeys. I take a sip of water and turn to my email, hunting for the next assignment.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

How to Walk

The woman trudging in front of me as I walk down Flatbush Avenue is killing me. Her drift back and forth across the sidewalk has all the seasick roll of a ship braving massive waves in an invisible storm, with none of the majesty or drama.

We reach the subway station at the same time, and she trundles into my path once again, her idiot bulk thwarting any attempt to pass and walk a normal speed. I take a small measure of satisfaction at the bottom of the stairs when she hits a wet patch of ice and almost goes ass over teakettle as she makes a "whoop" noise, but my schadenfreude is short lived as I hit the same patch and almost go down myself, making the same noise as I do so.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

The Road is Actually "Polhemus" But the Rest is True

"You know that road?" I say to Katie as we lounge on the couch, watching the plows scrape snow off the streets. "Polyphemus? Turns out it's named after this moth that has no mouth, so as an adult, the moth never eats."

She looks a me, stricken, asking, "You mean it spends its entire life hungry?"

Better Unsaid

"I went to the MTA, nyc-dot-gov, and weather-dot-com, and none of them could tell me if I have to go to work tomorrow," I say.

"Well, they said the storm would really come in overnight, so it sounds like you're just jealous that I don't have to go to work," Katie replies.

"I think that I'm better at keeping my jealousy down," she adds.

"I think you're right," I say, "but only because you're more jealous than I am, so you have more experience."

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Class Concerns

The dog walks across the icy meadow like she's at sea, each step considered carefully before placing a tense, testing paw. The white of the field, criss-crossed by countless boot- and paw-prints, still manages to almost blind even after we put our sunglasses on.

A smaller terrier tears past, chasing after a ball flung by his owner across the expanse, and our dog stops and stares off into the middle distance with a vacant, thoughtful look, as if trying to ignore such a blatant disregard of decorum.

The terrier's return starts her from her reverie, and she shies away at the unwanted sociability and trots after us, fears of slippery ice forgotten in her haste to get away.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Bird Poem

Fleet Foxes on the headphones, the gentle rocking of the train lulling me after a tough day at work, and the passage in the book I'm reading transforms from a simple list to a beautiful found poem.

Winter residents include red-tailed hawks, Cooper's hawks, sharp-shinned hawks, American kestrels, merlin and northern harriers. 
Birds that commonly nest in the field include northern flickers, woodcocks, ring-necked pheasants, brown thrashers, catbirds, common yellowthroats, and white-eyed vireos. 
They have been observed bathing in rainwater puddles on the runways.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Different Streams

"All I want to do," my co-worker explains after I express a slight incredulity at yet another of her schemes for getting views online, "is to share what makes me happy with other people, and maybe make them happy."

"For perhaps a small price," she adds.

When I share with her my Four Each Day blog she seems to appreciate the concept, but to find my revenue stream a little lacking.

"And you just give them away," she says, smiling.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

No Standing Under $100,000

The dog stops our walk to watch the wealthy children of Park Slope come out of whatever after school activity they've been in at the Berkeley Carroll School with their parents. An armada of town cars and taxis double park outside and make the street impassable as the scions of Brooklyn linger and hug and say goodbye to their friends.

"Oo-bear, oo-bear," one woman says, sashaying by while the dog stands stiff-legged in astonishment.

"Are you oo-bear?" she asks one driver, who shakes his head ruefully and replies, "Aricebo."

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

The Virtues of Illness

The cat comes to snuggle at 5:30 in the morning, right on time as always, and her aggressive affection pulls the covers off of my shoulder, waking me from a dream of suburban subdivisions and swimming pools. 

Floating up to consciousness, I realize I'm covered in sweat and the sheets and my pajamas are soaked through, but my one shoulder exposed to air is freezing, causing me to shiver uncontrollably.

I pull up the sheet, dislodging the cat who protests with a small "yow" and settles in again, and am able to fall back into dreamless, time-traveling sleep.

When I wake up to get ready for work, I feel hollowed out and calm, as if I have been wrung out and now only essential things remain.

Bonus: Saturday Night's Alright for Dying

Though I now suspect one of my favorite lunch spots as the source, initially I was convinced of my own foolishness as the root of my downfall.

As anyone who knows me well will tell you, this is almost always a safe bet.

But whether it was the poorly washed cilantro, the unbaked cookie dough, or my ill-advised foray into toxic waste disposal earlier that day when I cleaned out the fridge and found what I thought was an unripe peach but which turned out to be a peach covered in a terrifying crust of fuzzy green mold, whatever it was I became sick unto death with food poisoning Saturday night, and so unable to write my usual missive to you, dear reader.

Sunday, alas, was spent recovering from the Exorcist-like horrors of the previous evening (complete with cursing of loved ones and insinuations that their family members may perform oral services in Hades) and so I can only give you this, my apology.

Sunday, January 18, 2015


Right now, you're reading this. Not as I'm writing it, of course, but in the moment as you read this, you and I are communicating, however imperfectly.

When I thought of writing this, about how a few people I know read these little letters I send out into the void, and about how there are maybe a few people who read them to whom maybe I'm not so close as I was, when I thought about writing about that, I was scrubbing the kitchen counter with a wet nap, feeling the bleach in it leaching the oils from my skin.

I thought specifically about the people who read this, who get inside my head every day, and I wanted to say, "Thanks," because I like having you here, in my head, just to have someone to talk to.

Saturday, January 17, 2015


The high-rises of midtown are spangled with light at dusk. The cold wind scours my cheeks and stalks up and down the streets, looking for gaps in clothing to infiltrate and chill.

I remember my sister visiting me when I first moved to New York (so new I mistook The Dakota building at a distance for St. Patrick's), and I couldn't tell her why I was here, exactly.

I remember the things I wanted back then (fame, fortune, love), and how much my desire for those things made me love this place, my home, and a memory of that feeling warms my chest to keep out the cold.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Hashtag Yes All Wineglasses

"Do you think I'm too nosy about stuff you do on your phone?" I ask.

"Well, sometimes you're pretty overt about it, which is annoying," Katie replies, "but not in like a 'hashtag-yes-all-women' kind of way.

"But did you see what I was holding in the crook of my arm?" she continues. "Because I was carrying my wine glass like a football," and she demonstrates like she's on top of the Heisman Trophy, "so it kinda made me tilt my phone away like this."

Wednesday, January 14, 2015


I grew up not believing that I had a voice, a say in what went on around me in the house or what happened to me.

"Could you do me a favor?" I say, heart pounding, throat tight. "Could you not peel vegetables into the sink, 'cause they get soggy and I don't like to clean them up."

"Okay," she says, smiling indulgently, "I'll refrain."

Tuesday, January 13, 2015


As I wait for inspiration, my eye strays to a button down at the bottom corner of the screen: "Complain." Like a command, a demand, "Go ahead, let it out."

But what do I have to complain about? The dog snores next to the bed, while the cat stalks back and forth in the nighttime house that is her domain after we go to sleep, and my wife lays next to me in bed, scrolling through Facebook, waiting for me to finish up, and you know, I'm good.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Adventures in Spatial Intergrity

The very nice government employee at the library explaining why we can't get our IDs tonight is a "close talker," and she's so all up in my personal space that I'm starting to worry about the sanctity of my marriage, until we extract ourselves and head out to buy supplies for dinner tonight.

The guy in the grocery store reading the juice aisle like it's War and Peace doesn't even see me, or hear me, come to that, so when I say, "Pardon me," practically in his ear for the second time, he starts, stares at me like I've insulted his mom, and finally, last resort, moves out of the way.

I've got our groceries, bags in both hands, when I realize this man, white hair, sunglasses, blank affect, no sense of public distance, is standing right next to me, waiting, until I step to the side and he passes me to leave with an air of me being the asshole.

Even later, when I'm walking the dog, two guys make eye contact, one circling around while the other approaches directly, and I'm all set to fight off another mugging attempt when I realize they're just getting into their parked car beside which my dog peed.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Making Friends These Days

The man pouring Prosecco into every empty cup has moved on to another group, and Katie and I are getting ready to leave the party.

Just before we go, the woman we've been happily chatting with for most of the night comes up.

"If you're interested in dating someone," she says, "you can just say, 'Do you want to grab some coffee?" or something.

"But if you want to hang with someone as friends, what do you say?"

Another Thought on Teeth

I'm standing in the bathroom, brushing my teeth with that sort of blank, diffuse inattention one has for an action one has performed almost every night for 43 years. There's a slightly sore spot on my gums, back on the top inside right side, near the space where my wisdom teeth used to be, and I brush it a little more thoroughly, as if to punish it for having the nerve to pain me.

It strikes me, all of a sudden, as each action triggers a net of memories, all them connected one to the other, that I am in this moment as young as I will ever be again.

I lean down and spit blood into the sink.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Twitching Whiskers

"Shit, I forgot the contact lens solution," Katie says, and so I head out into the night to the 24-hour drugstore a few blocks away, walking beneath a moon hanging like a half-lidded eye in the cold, blue-black darkness of the sky above the brownstones.

Initially the chill seems bearable, but it gradually increases, the inverse of the heat being turned up on that proverbial frog who doesn't know he's going to be boiled, and by the time I get to the glowing fluorescent oasis, my cheeks are stinging and my fingers are starting to ache.

I get my provisions, I'm called to the cashier, but when we begin our transaction my metaphorical whiskers start to twitch and I turn to watch the guy behind me in line as he now stands about a foot away from me, definitely in my personal space.

He notices me noticing him, and I only have to bristle a little before he moves away, probably just drunk, definitely a little abashed, harmless enough, most likely.

Thursday, January 8, 2015


"I was reading about this comedian," I say to Katie as she wraps the towel around her pink, glowing body still warm from the shower. "He was sober for eight years and then this massive depression hit."

"But it's not like they had anything to do with each other," she says, climbing out of the tub.

"Yeah, but you can't just stop doing something like that and not have it fuck up your serotonin levels," I say, remembering my own issues with drugs, and how I don't feel bad all the time anymore, but I'm not nearly as easily triggered into ecstasy, either, and if I lost something to gain something else.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

I Love You, MTA

Katie pulls the red, fur-lined hood of her coat down over her face and turns my direction in her seat, thrusting her face at me. The ear-flaps of my hat, combined with her cave of fur framing her foxy, tired smile, mutes the annoying voices of our fellow passengers, and we lean our foreheads together, closing our eyes, together in a cocoon of dim light.

The gentle rocking of the train, and the warmth and comfort of my person, somehow soothes me, unclenching something tight and anxious right below my ribcage.

"I feel like a kid sleeping in the back of the car while mom and dad drive," I say quietly, and Katie nods.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Gospel of Thomas, Saying 70

"It'll all come out eventually," she says over her shoulder to my co-worker as she's walking away.

I realize I haven't been listening to their furtive conversation. Are they talking about me?

All my sins, all the lies I've ever told, all the slacking and the half-assed work, everything shoved under the carpet: will it all come out eventually?

Monday, January 5, 2015


The train rattles out of the tunnel and up the approach to the Manhattan Bridge, passing between apartment buildings flanking us on either side. I find myself, as I often do, peering out of the train, through the open, uncurtained windows as we pass, into the tidy, well-lit interiors, hoping to see naked people, or, perhaps, a couple having sex.

I cringe in momentary shame as I catch myself in my perversity, but then I stop. If I did happen to catch someone in a moment of indiscretion, they would either be doing it on purpose to feed their own perversity, knowing that someone might see, or doing it with total indifference, uncaring who saw.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Last Day of Vacation

After dinner, before bedtime, there's this lull where we see the hours drop off, one by one, as the clock inches us toward Monday. We are neither in the glory of the weekend, lush with time and full of promise, where we spend the moments like there'll always be more, nor in the final rush of the downward slope, where speed is sufficient to carry us through.

I get my hair cut, walk the dog, cook dinner, play a video game, watch some television. It's raining: we open a window, smell the wet air, clean up our plates, take a shower, try not to think about tomorrow, think about tomorrow, try to get some sleep.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

The World We Live In

A guy by the coffee truck drops his wallet, or is it a pamphlet? My natural instinct, of course, is to say something, to help, maybe I'll pick it up and hand it to him, really seal the deal, and he'll be grateful, which will sustain me all the way through this dark and rainy day.

But he didn't actually drop anything at all, as it turns out to just have been a wet, fallen leaf that hitched a ride on his boot.

I think, "Gosh, I should write about that for my four each day," but then I just turn it into a tweet.

Friday, January 2, 2015

All One Moment

We sit in the window at the tea shop, twinkling Christmas lights framing our view of a gray Greenwich Village street fading into dusk, when the carols and seasonal music are replaced by Nat King Cole singing of fascination. A wave of nostalgia washes over me, and I wonder out loud if it's possible to feel now (in the present, 2015) the way that people felt then (in, say, 1932) when they felt good.

Continuing the thought out loud, though, I say, "Maybe it's like Christmas, the way that all of those moments are sort of linked together, so that when you feel good now, it's the same thing as feeling good then, and there's no separation between now and then."

All of those Christmases, strung together on a single wire, like little lights, a single continuum of joy, each separate, each the same, all part of a single line that trails into the past and off into the future, and where we sit in the now, a single light of happiness burning, doing our part.

Salty Teeth

Maldon salt is really just sea salt, but the way they process it makes it come out in these delicate little step pyramid shapes that are super crunchy. The smoked kind, which I prefer because it has this extra umami flavor that's somewhat harder to come by for a vegetarian, is dried over burning oak giving the translucent crystals this lovely brownish hue.

I've eaten salt, all by itself, for years, since I was a child, really, but I mention the Maldon salt because it happens to be my favorite right now.

About once a month, usually while eating salt and feeling it crunch between my teeth, I think about how I've never had any cavities, and how the bacteria that cause tooth decay probably can't live with me eating salt and basically curing the inside of my mouth like a piece of jerky.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Almost Every Day

"What are some of your favorite memories from last year?" she asks. 

"A lot of the same as yours," I say. "The bedouin camp in the Sahara, London, spanish moss by the beach, The Little Red Lighthouse - all those things. 

"But you know," I add, "I've really enjoyed writing my four-a-days everyday."