Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Our New Friend

The old Japanese man approaches just as we're leaving the buddhist shrine. "Where are you from?" he asks in a thick accent.

When we tell him we're from New York City, a wide grin splits his face, and he lifts his cane in triumph. "I am going to take you for coffee or a beer," he says, "and you will help me practice my English."

I Feel The Jerk

Jet lagged as I am, I've still already managed to catch one fish at the restaurant that allows you to catch your own dinner, so now I'm just fishing for fun. Katie pulls up a flounder she's caught by a fin, but she throws it back because she wants to catch it "for real," meaning through the mouth.

But when the pole twitches indicating I've caught yet another fish, by the gills this time, I'm at a loss as to what to do - I don't want to deny Katie her moment in the spotlight catching her own fish, but I feel like it's against the rules if I throw it back.

Before I can really figure out what to do, though, a very helpful server has come up and whisked my fish away for deep-frying, and the disappointment in Katie's eyes at my stealing her thunder is crushing me.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Final Push

The Japan Airlines check-in process is doing us no favors, nor is my tiredness from the day's flea market. Technology seems to be intent on thwarting us - the computer reboots twice for no reason I can see, and the website kicked us out just as I was about to get our tickets.

Finally everything is finished, and Katie and I are showering, exhausted and a little punchy.

"New York is obdurate," I say, leaning against the wall of the shower.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Performance Anxiety

The space on the busy street looks almost big enough for me to park the van.

But after pulling ahead to the next car, turning on my blinker, and throwing it into reverse to let everyone know I'm serious, the traffic immediately begins piling up behind me, and suddenly a whole host of folks are watching me try to parallel park a cargo van in what may or may not be an appropriately sized space.

I inch backwards, cutting the wheel hard like I was taught, but it's a tight fit, and the turning radius isn't great, and now I can feel people getting impatient as the traffic light ticks through its cycle yet again.

When the cop car going the other direction slows down to watch the show, all my nerve deserts me and, sighing, I put it back into gear to circle the block one more time.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Holey Soles

The cobbler is using the shoe he's currently working on to avoid meeting my eye. "So you wanted the half sole?" he says about the shoes I was supposed to pick up yesterday.

When I remind him that I asked for a full leather sole, he says, "Oh, I think we may have misunderstood each other."

"Okay, let's talk about that," I say firmly.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Dog v. God

The sign on the churchyard fence reads, "We're in this struggle TOGETHER," over a picture of the current pope (Francis, for our readers coming from the far reaches of time and/or the internet) embracing a brown-skinned woman. It's a pretty basic sentiment, but it touches me, nonetheless.

And the building behind the wrought-iron fence, a solid church of the white stone Brooklyn variety, early 20th century, simultaneously unassuming and slightly ostentatious, suddenly seems very important too, and I can feel the weight of all that stone and all that time and history in the carvings of angels, in the tall stained-glass windows, in the steeples crowned with crosses.

The dog walks by, completely unconcerned, sniffs a corner where other dogs have almost certainly peed, and then looks up at me curiously where I stand, transfixed by something like an epiphany that has no meaning attached, and waits for us to move on.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Not Great

I finish walking the dog and feeding the cat. I'm dead on my feet and impatient with the entire thought of being awake.

"Do you want to take a shower?" Katie asks, sticking her head out of the bathroom. When I explain that I really just want to finish getting ready for bed, that I'm tired and cranky, her face instantly falls in disappointment and she disappears back into the bathroom with a parting, "Great."

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Sick Day

There's a sound like someone dumping a bottle of soda out on the subway floor, and people scatter away from the source of the noise, making the crowded car even tighter.

At the center of the rapidly clearing circle sits a man, hunched over and swaying in his seat, clearly drunk or high, hovering over a puddle of the worst kind of thin, brown sick as it spreads across the floor. 

As he belches and then noisily looses another wet torrent down his front, I turn to the woman next to me and ask, "Should I push the button and let the conductor...?"

"Yes," she says, without hesitation.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Burning Eden

Soon, California will be nothing but a scorched memory, but I want to remember sunshine and beaches. I want to remember possibility, a place where dreams are born into the real on palm-lined streets beneath endless, eternal blue skies, where the drugs were always good, and the people were always beautiful. 

When I lived in Arizona, California was Eden, the real vacationland, the magic country from which everything good and pleasurable thing came: Disney, music, oranges, avocados, almonds. Blue water and wine and the lure of driving west with the sun and never coming back.

Sunday, September 20, 2015


The woman at our booth at the flea market is a big lady - not fat, but tall and broad and meaty, with a mass of thick black curls sticking out every which way from the top of her head despite her obvious attempt to tame them. Her expression, however, belies her size, and seems timid and small and a little lost, like she is somewhat overawed by the market, or by us, or because she's alive.

I wonder to myself what it must be like to feel as if you're a lost little lamb when, by your looks, you run the place, or you could if you wanted. I wonder what it must be like to have people look at you and see one thing when you feel like something very different on the inside

Saturday, September 19, 2015


The dog is getting all kinds of attention at the green market today, but I finally manage to pull her away from her adoring fans and up the hill towards the exit.

As we pass a couple of grocery bags full of delicious-looking vegetables, a small voice pipes up, "Don't let her eat all of my food."

The food is guarded, I now notice, by a little blond boy, who eyes the doge warily as I quickly reassure him that she won't eat his food.

Apparently satisfied, he squats down in the dirt and, smiling, shrugs as he says, "So what now?"

Friday, September 18, 2015


The guy with the backpack and the dreadlocks has clearly had enough, and the cops are doing their best to remain patient.

"Sure I had a beer," he says, "but you know what you'll find of you search my pack?" He starts to take off his pack, saying, "My work clothes!"

One of the cops shakes her head, while the other puts out his hand, "We do!'t need to search your backpack."

Thursday, September 17, 2015


The woman at the place where Katie asked me to go pick up her butterflies twists her mouth when she talks, like she's chewing her words a little, and finding them slightly sour, and even though I normally find something like that annoying, on her, it comes across as charming.

After numerous texts back and forth with the owner, she finally finds the butterflies that Katie needs. I'm on the phone with Katie when she brings them out, and we're both incredibly grateful.

"Tell her I love her," Katie says, "not because she gave me the right answer, but because she persevered."


I saw a couple old friends for dinner tonight. We talked for a long time.

There's too many things to say, and it's late. It's nice to talk to people for whom your awesomeness is a given.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Dropping my Eaves

The group of people walks by just as the doge squats to pee, and I curse inwardly. If she gets startled, she won't go, and we'll have to start all over looking for a spot.

But for once, she keeps her eyes on the prize, and I get to hear their conversation as they pass.

The woman is pointing over her shoulder at an old building that's been turned into a bank, and the older man says to her (imagine an Eastern European accent, a little like a vampire), "I just wrote a blog post about that last week."

Monday, September 14, 2015

Time Bully

"I feel like it should be five," my co-worker says lackadaisically at around three in the afternoon. I've been up to my neck in work all day, and the prospect of the day being over, with so much left to do, fills me with dread.

"No," I say, firmly, fixing her with my sternest look. When she demurs, I cut her short, announcing, "I have no time to defer to your schedule."

Sunday, September 13, 2015

What Are You Running From?

As soon as she's done pooping, the doge pulls to the end of her leash, straining to continue her walk, not even wanting to give me time to pick up.

When I've finished cleaning up after her, we start walking again, but she's clearly on a mission. We walk faster and faster until, finally, we're both running.

I can't speak for her, but I have no idea why we were running.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Momento Mori

When I return from my morning errands, the computer is closed on the floor, where I left it, but the apple logo is lit, and the machine is making this horrid whirring sound. When I open it up, the screen shows the terrifying visage of a folder, blinking, with an ominous question mark at the center.

I know something is wrong with the object through which I interact with the majority of my life, but I can't deal with it right now. I somehow manage to forget, and yet the feeling is always there, a vague sense of unease, a darkness lurking just on the edge of vision, darkening the day, leaving even the most pleasant interactions with a residue of doom.

Friday, September 11, 2015

In Vino Veritas

The sneaking tickle in my sinuses has turned into a ache. I finally drag the dog away from a particularly compelling corner of a fence in an effort to get home in time to get a little extra sleep.

I think, "I didn't have a glass of wine with dinner." This is the first time this has been the case in a while.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

A Discourse on Beauty

The pretty woman with the very long legs, perched on very high heels, in a very short skirt, teeters outside my work building as the rain lets up. She is chatting animatedly with the two button-down guys, presumably from her office.

The three guys from ConEd digging up the street have all stopped dead in their tracks, struck dumb by her figure. They stare, unashamed, slack-jawed and grinning like idiots, naked lust in their eyes, while she stands and talks, and they seem unsure whether to whistle, cat-call, or just bear witness, until one finally shakes his head ruefully, breaking the spell, and they return to work.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Call it the Blues, I Guess

The guy in the government office conducting my interview is as close to an archetype of "bureaucrat" as I've ever seen: square jaw, bit of a pudge hanging over his belt, a crew cut close enough that his scalp shines pink beneath the spiky hair, and a shave, even at this late hour, so clean that the skin of his neck looks almost like the wattles of a turkey.

He turns to the computer and asks me a couple questions about my current address and my middle name. He then notes something on a pad, and, in the silence that briefly blossoms, he begins to speak/sing absently, "Don't wish it away/don't look at it like it's/forever."

And that's it; we finish the interview, I thank him, and he gets up to make coffee as I'm leaving.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

It's True

Katie and I are going over AirBnB listings for Tokyo for our visit later this month.

"Well," says Katie, "you're clearly pushing for this one, but I don't like how strict the rules are."

"Like what?"

"Well, it says we have to be quiet, so we don't disturb the neighbors," she says, "but you've got a really loud laugh."

Monday, September 7, 2015


It's 6:30 AM, on a holiday, so no work today. No reason to get up out of bed unless we feel like it, but here we are, Katie and I, awake as hell.

Well, Katie's awake, restless and turning, and each time I almost fall back asleep, she shifts to try and find a more comfortable position, and I wake up again.

Later, after we've both fallen asleep and awakened again at a more reasonable hour, I mention my earlier desire to knock her out with a blowdart, and she nods, saying, "I wish you had!"

Sunday, September 6, 2015

He Doesn't Eat Much

Our usual after-flea ramen spot is super busy, and kind of loud. Katie's mom is doing her best to be social after a long day, but all three of us are deep in our bowls of ramen, quietly eating with gusto.

Katie notices it before I do: a small, black and green iridescent beetle about the size of an aspirin, floating face down in my ramen broth. I'm not even disgusted, just disappointed that I won't be able to finish my ramen as I call the waitress over to let her know.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

The Girl Can't Help It

"Go to your place," I say in my sternest possible voice, pointing. The dog has been completely discombobulated by the visit of Katie's mother, her presence in our home an apparent source of irritation so great that the only solution is to bark nearly incessantly.

Once the dog is on her blanket, crouched and looking very repentant, I command her to stay, and put up the gate in the door of our bedroom, effectively locking her in.

But lo and behold, not five minutes later she appears in the living room, a look of incredible guilt on her face, as she looks directly at me and lets out one of her dry, almost coughing barks.

It Was Quite Loud

"I'm so glad you liked it," the waiter says with a very thick accent to Katie's mom as he takes her plate. She's come up to New York to stay with us for a few days.

After he's gone, she leans over to me. "I'm not really sure what he said," she says over the loud music playing from the bar.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

I Missed It

"I don't care what we watch," Katie says, standing abruptly from where we were going over our DVD collection. "I just hate fighting."

"Wait," I say. "We were fighting?"

Wednesday, September 2, 2015


"You don't read out loud very much, do you?" Katie asks.

"What do you mean?"

"Well," she's trying to be kind, now, "the way you pronounce certain words, like 'eulogize.'"

"Did I?" I say, frantically searching the text.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Marry Well

Do I write about the guy leaning up against the pole on the subway that Katie out-crazied on her way home from work today?

Or do I write about us lying on the couch, bloated after eating too much Indian food, her head in my lap? I asked a question about whether or not she thought she would actually throw up if I touched a certain spot on her tummy, and we laughed until tears ran down her cheeks into her ears.

Whatever I write about, she usually makes it more interesting, and more fun.