Friday, March 31, 2017

"There There"

I lie on the bed after a long day at work, my head throbbing, heart pounding in exhaustion. The cat lies next to me (she was here first, and probably has been all day) with her eyes half-closed, and her soft fur seems so comforting, so sleepy and gentle, that I can't help but just curl around her and bury my face in her side. She smells good, not like a cat, but like an animal, and I breathe her in and try to calm down.

After a minute of this, without fuss, she stands up, stretches, and steps out of the curve of my arm to circle back around and lay down a couple of inches away, placing a conciliatory paw on my wrist.
One year ago: An Angry New Friend
Three years ago: Baby Love

Thursday, March 30, 2017


Unable to find an extension cord, I finally end up plugging in the record player to a half-burned out string of Christmas lights that's been lying around since Christmas. After a little fiddling the turntable spins, I drop a the needle into the groove, and the peculiar interstellar silence of ambient record noise, the crackles of dust and static, comes out of the speakers.

We settle back on the couch to listen as the music begins, me pleased that I haven't lost my touch -after all these years still able to find precisely the spot between songs.

But the drunken warble in the first notes let's us know that all is not well with our chosen medium, and we look at each other in dismay as a mildly distorted "Puff the Magic Dragon" warps the air.
One year ago: Ditched
Two years ago: Clouds (Irritations/Pretensions)
Three years ago: Bonus 4ED: Morocco 3/19/14, Preference
Four years ago: We Are Not Entirely Understood
Nine years ago: Detoxing the Jedi Way

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Truth Bomb

We're walking home from the train after a delicious night of Italian food, good conversation, and wine, but my earlier-in-the-day despair is still rearing it's head, and Katie is doing her best to talk me down.

"The problem is," I say for the thousandth time as the wine sloshes around in my head a little, "that I don't think I can do what I want to do."

"You always have these reasons why you can't do something," Katie says, clearly exasperated with me. "I'm sorry if I sound a little harsh or something, but you lack drive."
One year ago: Spider Senses Tingling
Two years ago: The Art of Unfucking Your Morning
Three years ago: Good Intentions
Four years ago: Come for the Meatballs, Stay for the Glimpse of the Abyss

Tuesday, March 28, 2017


I shelter under the awning in front of the closed store while Katie and her father stand expectantly a door down and wait for the portly guy in the t-shirt. Cold water drips from the vinyl and the spattering, misty rain keeps coming down, so I zip my jacket a little higher and shiver a little.

The proprietor goes back into his store, hooks the curved handle of a cheap black umbrella on one finger off a display in the front window of his store, and comes back out to hand it to Katie's dad.

Katie and her dad both try to hand the guy some money, but, after a short, friendly scuffle, dad ends up paying while Katie ruefully tucks a few bills back into her wallet, and then the three of us walk off into the rain.
One year ago: Spring Cold
Two years ago: Ouija Doge
Three years ago: Good Intentions
Four years ago: Final Day Before Vacation

Monday, March 27, 2017

The Golden Hour

I sit with the dog on the stone church steps, across the street from the grocery store, and wait for Katie to come out with our dinner. An old, thin, white-haired man with glasses and a cigarette gives me a nod and sits on the wall a few yards away.

The  sun goes down, painting the buildings across the street a warm, buttery gold, and blueing the sky like gradually deepening water, while I watch people cross the street, back and forth, some of them talking on their phones, some carrying groceries or some heavier, invisible burden.

I suddenly find myself wondering if the white-haired guy is spying on me, for some reason, but when I turn to look at him, he's looking down at his phone, taking absent-minded pulls on his smoke and ignoring me entirely.
One year ago: Workout Buddy
Two years ago: Just Needed Permission
Three years ago: In the Way
Four years ago: Raggedy
Nine years ago: His and Hers

Sunday, March 26, 2017


After that Ed Sheeran song comes on the radio again, that song about somebody's mother maybe? comes on yet again, too. A fine mist spatters the dirty windshield of the van, making the streetlights and stoplights shatter and sparkle into a million dusty, glittering shards.

"That is the second song I've heard twice in less than two hours," I tell Katie, who doesn't even look up from her phone.

"Pay to play," she says, disinterestedly.
One year ago: Fear of Missing Out
Three years ago: Have You Seen This Man?

In the Moment

Right now, this very moment, my wife is lying next to me on the bed on her back, waiting for me to finish writing this. I promised her that I would rub a knot out of her shoulders as soon as I was done.

I'm writing this quickly so that I can fulfill my promise because I wasted a lot of time screwing around online while she was getting ready for bed instead of writing.

Don't worry, it's not like something super profound happened today, although I did ride my bike around the park a couple of times this afternoon, and there's this one hill, right before the entrance to Grand Army Plaza that is really steep and deadly, and the second time I just skipped it.
One year ago: Fear of Missing Out
Two years ago: Creation Can't Be Forced
Three years ago: Imaginary
Four years ago: My Wife is Very Charming
Six years ago: 3/25/11 White Light in action

Saturday, March 25, 2017

After Party

We get off the train and walk down 7th Avenue toward home. She takes my hand and we walk awhile in silence.

Gravity seems extra heavy today, and each step is a slog through molasses. When she looks up at me with a worried expression, I say, "I think I'm just all talked out."
One year ago: Just Kids
Two years ago: I Am Seen As the Problem
Three years ago: Domestic Bliss
Four years ago: Hipster Vehicular Envy

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Meet the New Boss

She makes the rounds to each of us in turn, her short, glossy black coat shining, her little jaw jutting out in a fetching underbite, tail wagging: first to Katie, then Ellen, then up on the chair to stand on John's chest, and finally up on the couch to wiggle on my lap before doing it all over again. With each round, she grows more insistent, washing our faces in tiny kisses and whining under her breath.

She gets back to me again, and looks searchingly into my eyes, her Chihuahua features soft and pleading, "What could you possibly want?" I whisper as she flops on her back for a belly rub.
One year ago: That Ol' Devil Moon
Two years ago: Shake it Off
Three years ago: Home

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

A Thousand Cuts

In the middle of the meeting, my boss grabs her mug, which she usually keeps filled with water. It's empty though, and she puts it back down without skipping a beat, or even changing expression.

The guy from HR drones on, talking way in the back of his throat so that it sounds like he's trying to swallow his thoughts before they get out of his mouth. I know my boss has been having a long day, and for just an instant I can feel her momentary disappointment, so slight that it probably barely even registers for her, the thirst that is unassuageable, but easily forgettable; a small injustice, one of a thousand that everybody faces every day, tiny, but still a little painful, like a paper cut.
One year ago: Manners
Two years ago: Delicate Gentlemen
Four years ago: At Least I Didn't Get My Initials Engraved On It

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Splitting No Hairs

"If I ask you, 'That's weird, isn't it?' and you can't fix it, that is not the time to split hairs," Katie says as she puts the dishes in the dishwasher.

"I wasn't trying to be difficult!" I say. "I don't know what your computer normally does, so I don't know if it was being weird or not."

She seems to struggle with several unspoken replies before she finally takes a breath, smiles, and says, "I love you."
One year ago: Tough Guy
Two years ago: Go to Sleep
Three years ago: On Vacation
Four years ago: Donut Danger
Six years ago: 3/21/11 - Nothing can be OK, too

Monday, March 20, 2017

Sick of Yourself

I stand at the top of the stoop and gently tug the dog's leash to try and get her inside, but for an old dog she can make herself surprisingly dense. Eventually I give up and sit on the bottom step while she stands in the middle of the sidewalk staring up at the people as they walk around her and "taking the air."

Another dog walks by, a little Yorkie in a sweater who stops so frequently to scratch himself that his owner feels compelled to say, "He's got really bad allergies."

"Man," I say to the little guy as he stops again and scratches furiously, "imagine if you were allergic to dogs."
One year ago: Back in the Saddle
Two years ago: Go to Sleep
Four years ago: Snapshots From an Evening Walk

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Sunshine Yellow

I stand astride my bike and wait for Katie to unlock hers, while I gaze up into an anime crystal blue sky dotted with serene white clouds contemplating their impermanence as they drift and dissipate across the firmament,

I'm interrupted in my reverie by the shout of a child. I look down to the sidewalk to see a little kid on a kick scooter pointing excitedly up at me and looking back at his mother.

"Mama, a yellow helmet!" he yells again, happily, and I grin and smack the side of my bright sunny helmet in approval.
One year ago: Close Quarters
Two years ago: The Best I Could Do
Three years ago: On Vacation
Four years ago: They Were Delicious (with apologies to my wife and WCW (no relation))

No Sell Out

The cake (homemade yellow cake with chocolate frosting) I baked for Katie's birthday is a hit with some of her fellow vendors at the Brooklyn Flea. So, of course, the next step amongst this group of pirates is to figure out a way to monetize it.

"You should talk to the coffee guys," one of the vendors says after swallowing another huge bite,  "Maybe you could sell some of your stuff with them, you know, at the table."

Saturday, March 18, 2017


The drunk girl comes into the deli after "Tiger" has almost finished cooking Katie's bacon cheeseburger. Drunk girl orders two Philly cheesesteaks with hot sauce, walks around, and perches on the stool next to me while we wait for my fries.

Tiger deftly pinches the lip of the foil bowl closed around the plastic lid over them, spinning it a few inches at a time until it's tightly sealed, and she says, "Oh my God, are those fries?"

When I answer that, yes, in fact, they are fries, she smiles a lopsided smile and says, "I was hoping you were gonna give me one."
One year ago: Dogs Remind Us We're Human
Two years ago: They Stay the Same Age
Three years ago: London Tunnels/Moroccan Skies
Four years ago: Wasted Years
Nine years ago: 3-17-08 differently abled

Thursday, March 16, 2017


Once she settles into her seat on the subway, Katie looks down at her hand curiously, then holds it out to me to show me two small red spots smeared on her finger.

"Pizza sauce?" I say, but it looks like blood.

She raises the finger to her mouth, then stops herself and examines her hands more closely, saying, "No, better not. What if it's not mine?"
One year ago: Kids These Days (Bike Shop Mix)
Two years ago: Digging For Copper
Three years ago: An Auspicious Start
Four years ago: Glooooom

Wednesday, March 15, 2017


In the morning: the guy with the mustache coming down the stairs rolls his eyes in irritation as the mass and press of humanity storms out of the subway cars and shoves him aside on its way out of the station. I think, somewhat piously, about how good it would be for everyone not to take things so personally when the world knocks them around a bit.

When I'm coming home from work, tentatively making my way over the icy drifts piled several feet high at the at the corners and in the crosswalks, a woman walks briskly past me crossing the street, and I find myself annoyed. What, I'm not walking fast enough for you? I think to myself, and pick up the pace.
One year ago: Hard to Stomach
Two years ago: Talking Back to Showtime (cont'd)
Four years ago: Honesty is the Best

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Blizzard Travails

Katie, the dog, and I pause as the man summits the huge pile of slush, salt, and ice on the corner. In one hand he carries a pizza, and under his other arm he is lugging, like a sack of grain, a small child in a puffy green snow suit and a knitted beanie with a poof on top.

Safely on the sidewalk, he sets down the kid and starts to walk off, saying, "Okay, champ, let's go."

The kid stretches toward the dad's hand and says in a small voice, "Up," and, when he is not picked up again, begins to cry.
One year ago: Eat Something
Two years ago: One At a Time
Three years ago: Practicing

No Sense of Snow

"So...," trying to feel out the situation with my boss, "what are you gonna do if it's really bad tomorrow?"

"Well," she replies, a bit blasé for my tastes, "I've got a meeting offsite so I'll be there. It'll probably be nothing, so you should just plan on coming in."

"Yeah, you're probably right," I say, deflated.
One year ago: Boundary Issues
Two years ago: Physical Exertion
Three years ago: Cyclical
Four years ago: Finding Ourselves in a New Room

Sunday, March 12, 2017


My heart sinks a little when the big guy gets on the train, because I know the open seat next to me is where he's headed.

Even knowing this, I still find myself getting a little bummed when he backs up and attempts to wedge his bulk into the entirely too small space. He sits, shoved aggressively up against me, leaning awkwardly forward because he can't fit all the way into the seat, and my temper rises for a moment, but then I consider: I'm on my way to a movie where I'll be sitting for the next 2 hours or so, and I'm a healthy, (relatively) young man.

With a smile, I stand up to let him settle in, but he just looks at me suspiciously for a long, uncomfortable moment, as if I might be insulting him, until finally I tell him, "Hey man, just get comfortable."
Two years ago: Sick
Three years ago: Memories and Grudges
Nine years ago: 3-12-08 fragments

Still Winter

"Are you warmer than you were this morning?" I ask Judy, who works at the laundry where I'm picking up my clothes. It's been in the low 20s all day and the shop has no heat.

She makes a face as she hauls my laundry bag up on the counter. "When I was little, I am always cold, even summer always cold, but now I am older," she grits her teeth, "it is worse!"
One year ago: Spring Looks Delicious
Two years ago: Normal
Three years ago: The Art of the Deal
Four years ago: Some People Shouldn't Be In Customer Service. Or In Public.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Different Times

Walking home from work down Fulton Mall, I see that Brooklyn isn't just one city. It's multiple cities, from different times, all superimposed and jostling up against each other. This shoe shop is from the '80s, but the Starbucks is straight up 2000s, and the wholesale dress store is from the '60s maybe.

The clocktower over by the new stadium stands cheek-by-jowl with a new glass and steel apartment building and a brick church, each of them living in their own universes, resolutely ignoring the others, in uneasy detente with the present.
One year ago: Uncharitable Charity
Two years ago: I Might Have Felt Guilty If It Wasn't Raining
Three years ago: Reincarnintersection
Four years ago: Saving Daylight, Burning Midnight Oil

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Port of Called Out

"You have to get your port flushed every six-to-eight weeks," the nurse scolds, referring to the port implanted under my skin they used last year to administer my chemo. She's right, of course - if it isn't flushed often enough, it can get all clogged, which is gross, and maybe a little dangerous.

I acknowledge that I have not been taking care of things, and we lapse into companionable silence as she prepares the saline solution to do the flushing. They're leaving the port in for a while, I suppose, just in case anything comes back, but I can't say I much like thinking about having to use it again, and as she pushes the saline into the tube dangling from my chest, I shudder a little.
One year ago: Heckling
Three years ago: That's MY Problem
Four years ago: Moving the House - Tourette's Style
Nine years ago: 3-9-08 Liminal

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

International Women's Day

With a hiss of hydraulics, the doors shut and the bus starts to pull away from the curb. I catch a tumble of red out of the corner of my eye, and turn to see an older woman run past me up the middle of the street, making pretty good speed.

When she gets to the bus, though, instead of climbing on board herself, she stops and stands directly in front of it, arms wide, and peers over her shoulder back the way she came with an encouraging look. 

A older man hobbles past me, as fast as he can, and she holds the bus and everybody on it there until he catches up, then takes his arm, and the pair clamber on board together.
One year ago: Bum Skier
Two years ago: 3/8/15 - I Get It
Three years ago: I'd Know
Four years ago: Ray IS a Persuasive Dude

Tuesday, March 7, 2017


The music in my headphones as I come up the stairs from the subway at the end of the day reminds me of when I used to perform music, the sound moving through me, the power of it, opening my heart into an audience.

Far above, a dark blue balloon rises up into the sky. A little boy grabs his father by the hand, pointing at the balloon, following it as it rises.

"Balloon!" he yells, over the ecstasy in my ears.
One year ago: What a Ham
Two years ago: 3/7/15 - First Time on the Slopes
Three years ago: We Are Small, and the World is So Big
Four years ago: Selling the Couch, part III - The Encouchening
Nine years ago: 3-7-08 Settling In

Monday, March 6, 2017

Weapon of Choice

"Do you remember - because I remember - the dog was digging in her sleep or something at like 5:30 in the morning and you decided to involve me by speaking in complete sentences?" Katie says.

"Of course I remember," I say, laughing, as she pulls her hair up into a huffy ponytail "I thought you were awake."

"I was awake maybe to turn over and go back to sleep, until you attacked me with words," she insists.
Three years ago: Rhetorical
Four years ago: Selling the Couch part II

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Most People Know

"You know that moment when you realize that, for at least one thing, you know more than somebody you really admire?" I say, coming into the living room.

"Yeah," Katie says, without looking up from her attempt to concentrate on the application she's working on.

"Well, I'm listening to George Saunders on this podcast, and he's like, 'Oh, Lust and Panic have nothing to do with each other,'" my best "can you believe it?" tone.

Now she looks up from the computer, and our roommate John looks away from the TV, and I realize from their expressions that maybe the things I know aren't true for everybody.
One year ago: In My Head/In My Mouth
Two years ago: Two Versions of Emptiness
Three years ago: This Smells Terrible! Here, You Smell It.
Four years ago: Trolling: You're Doing it Right - Selling the Couch Edition
Nine years ago: Starting Again and Saying Goodbye


"Why do you think the bartender gave us those shots?" John asks. We walk home into the frigid wind knifing up Flatbush Avenue. "Did we tip well?"

I can still taste the smoky pong of the mezcal as I reply, "Maybe it was a buyback."
One year ago: What the Cat Said
Two years ago: Office Odors
Three years ago: Discipline
Four years ago: Wait, You Guys Have Some of My Books? Which ones?
Seven years ago: 3-4-10 late edition

Friday, March 3, 2017

Of Course

I'm fiddling with my headphones as I come up the stairs from the subway to the street, so I don't notice him until he's practically on top of me.

"I'm sorry to ask you this, but it's getting cold and I'm getting sick. Could you please buy me a hat?"

I look at him, his bald head, the skin of his skull about to shine through, his thin frame, and say, without really thinking about it, "Yeah, what do you need."
One year ago: Snow Pee
Three years ago: Move It, Schmuck
Four years ago: Fuck Day Drinking

Thursday, March 2, 2017


An interview with Raoul Peck leads to an article about Patrice Lumumba and now I'm on the train reading a poem by Frank O'hara that I don't understand.

I look up at the subway ad, and I don't understand that, either. Nothing makes a bit of sense.

I look at all the people on the subway, all us far underground, and I think, "Jesus, what are we doing here?"
One year ago: Nostalgia Trip
Two years ago: Brief Encounter
Three years ago: Boundaries
Four years ago: Brother Paul

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Sicker Than I Thought

"Well, I hear a little bit of wheezing," the nurse says kindly as I pull my shirt down. "But if my stethoscope had been in the wrong place I would have missed it."

Later, after I finish yoga, feeling a little guilty for having stayed home from work, I'm seized by a coughing fit that rattles and thrashes around in my chest like a clothes dryer full of wet rags. I spit into a paper towel, and examine the sizable yellow globs collected there with some interest.
One year ago: Dishwasher Epiphany
Two years ago: Near Miss
Three years ago: Wars and Rumors of Wars
Four years ago: Dressing Up and Annoying the Neighbors