Wednesday, May 31, 2017


My reflection flickers in the passing windows of the train as it pulls into the station: existence, non-existence, existence again, onoffonoff on off

We crowd into the car, the tide of bodies spinning me so that I have to step in the door sideways, like a crab.

The people around me touch me on three sides, an arm here, a leg there, someone's shoulder against my back, but none of it is hostile or intrusive. We're all mutually neutral, pushed together, breathing and soft, unmoved in the thrust and motion of the train around us, thinking our separate thoughts, on our way together to separate destinations.
One year ago: Mind the Light
Two years ago: The Apathy of Youth
Three years ago: Love Minus One
Four years ago: I Must Have Had "Soft Eyes"
Eight years ago: 5/31/09 - Wyckoff part 2
Nine years ago: 5-31-08 Camels of the Heights of Guam

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

So Quiet

We bike home through the misty evening after dropping the van off at the U-Haul place, up Third Street with its stately row houses. The overarching trees are already so thick they obscure the street lights, leaving us rolling through darkness with brief patches of leaf-shadowed light illuminating the sidewalks and streets.

For a while there's only the sound of us breathing, pushing pedals, climbing the hill past dark windows and parked cars

"It's so quiet," Katie almost whispers, and her voice is swallowed up in the night.
Three years ago: At the Rock Show
Four years ago: Manhattanhenge

Monday, May 29, 2017

The Fountain of Youth

Ellie the very old min-pin finally decides she likes Katie and sits at her feet, quivering slightly, while Katie gently strokes her fur. Coco has gone to the end of her leash and stands staring at nothing in particular, as usual.

"Our other dog, Lou, was a rescue too," Ellie's owner says (side note pointing out that very rarely do encounters with other dog owners end with an exchange of names, while the names of dogs are freely given and usually have to stand in for the name of the owner), "and he'd been so badly mistreated that we thought he was much older."

"Now that he's had some pampering, though, he looks a lot younger," he finishes with a shrug, and Ellie closes her eyes in bliss as Katie begins scratching her behind the ears.
One year ago: Tap Out
Two years ago: Jet Fuel Can't Melt Cynicism
Three years ago: ADD After Spin Class
Four years ago: I'm Just Bigger Than You
Nine years ago: 5-29-08 Wherein I ask the eternal question, "Bitch, where's my money?"

Banal But True

"I know that it's real," says our roommate at the dinner table as the conversation turns to a discussion of this blog. "Some of the things you write are too banal to be anything else."

We laugh at this, until another friend at the table says, "I read it every morning. When I see myself in it sometimes, I 'm all, 'Yes!'"
One year ago: Sharing
Two years ago: Feel Better by Doing Better
Three years ago: The Construction Workers Here Are Usually Quite Polite
Four years ago: A Constant Disappointment
Eight years ago: 5/28/09 - Just Biking in the Rain (wham! wham!)
Nine years ago: 5-28-08 And they Struck the Motherlode

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Hello Darkness

The dog stops, starts, jumps left, then beelines right into my path, where I promptly (and accidentally) almost kick her, which sends her skittering off on another trajectory.

"Coco, you have such a neurotic walk," Katie says affectionately.

"Yeah, since she's practically blind," I say. "I wonder what it must be like to walk around with us in the dark."
One year ago: Theater Kids
Two years ago: Sick Day
Three years ago: This is a Man's World
Eight years ago: 5/27/09 - Phbbbbtt!
Nine years ago: 5-27-08 Storm's Coming

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Two Ways of Being a Couple

The couple walks by, she, dead-eyed, her voice nasally and dull, like a blunted knife, he, with a vacant expression, completely un-enthused to be doing anything at all.

I watch them go when another, different couple walk up, going the opposite direction.

She is wearing a school girl uniform, but she looks a little older than that, he's in jeans, t-shirt, and a beanie, and carrying a take-out box filled with ramen noodles.

She begins a little song I couldn't catch because it was in a different language, maybe, but as they walk past, he begins to sing too, and they float away, down Flatbush Avenue, holding hands, singing quietly to each other.
One year ago: Up and Down
Two years ago: The Tension is Killing me
Four years ago: Sometimes, Giving Up is Okay Too
Eight years ago: 5/26/09 - Can't Make it
Nine years ago: 5-26-08

Thursday, May 25, 2017

What Are You Gonna Do?

She's dressed normally, maybe a little drably: patterned tights, tennis shoes, a beige coat that looks a little too big for her, even her simultaneously flat and flyaway hair, which might be a clue to a disturbed condition in other circumstances, seems appropriate given the wet, spattering rain that's been coming down all day.

Then she steps off the curb at the corner, against the light, and walks out into the middle of the crosswalk as the SUV barrels down on her. It swerves a fraction at the last minute, missing her by literally inches (her jacket billows slightly in its wake), but her expression doesn't change as she hops backwards and then strides forward again, again being missed only by inches by another car going the opposite direction from the first through the intersection.

Safe on the sidewalk, watching her make it to the other side despite her apparent best efforts at vehicular suicide, I look to the woman standing next to me, if she saw it too, and she almost imperceptibly raises one eyebrow, and shrugs.
One year ago: Asking
Two years ago: Meaner Streets
Three years ago: Anatomy of a Hanging
Four years ago: Starting Over
Eight years ago: 5/25/09 - Water Taxi Washing Machine
Nine years ago: 5-25-08 Your Guide to Firefighting

Wednesday, May 24, 2017


"I don't want to push, I just want to go at a leisurely pace," I say to Katie as we start our bike ride around Prospect Park.

But as the dusk deepens around us, and the air cools, we hit that one long, beautiful hill at the bottom of the park, and I before I know it I've pulled away from Katie and I'm letting gravity drag me along.

"So much for a leisurely pace," Katie complains good-naturedly when she catches up.

"It just feels so good," I say, smiling in joy.
One year ago: So, Kind of the Opposite
Two years ago: Dad Jokes
Three years ago: But I Can Never Remember Her Name
Four years ago: In Which I Dream of China, For Some Reason
Eight years ago: 5/24/09 - Memento Divino
Nine years ago: 5-24-08 Saturday Morning Brooklyn

Tuesday, May 23, 2017


His white hair is cropped close to the skull so that the too-tan, leathery skin beneath shows through, shiny and tight. He sits by the door on the long bench that extends along one wall of the subway car, clutching a metal cane, with a vacant, exhausted stare that does not see.

A short, white plastic tube sticks out of his throat where his adam's apple would be, and it's held in place by a plastic and dingy gray cloth collar that pokes out of the neck of his sweatshirt.

He coughs, an almost silent, wheezing heave that convulses his entire body, and my chest contracts in sympathy, as if there is suddenly not enough air in the train, underground, in the entire world.
One year ago: Don't Be a Hero
Two years ago: Pete Seeger Park
Three years ago: Shelter
Four years ago: Veterans of Twitter Warfare
Eight years ago: 5/23/09 - Wycoff when you can sneeze?
Nine years ago: 5-23-08 Non-non-violence

Monday, May 22, 2017

Yeah She Is

"Let me tell you what's in our freezer," I tell my co-worker. "On this side," drawing a box in the air and indicating the left side, "ice, you know, the usual, and in the middle, there's ice cream, frozen veggies, that kind of stuff."

"And on this side," I say, drawing a circle over the right third of my imaginary freezer, "in a plastic bag, there's a pig head, for the skull for Katie's art."

"She's such a badass," my co-worker says, shaking her head.
One year ago: Helping
Two years ago: Scheduling
Three years ago: Cutter
Four years ago: Nostalgia as the Highest Form of Feeling
Eight years ago: 5/22/09 - They Will Soon Forget How Easy it Was
Nine years ago: 5-22-08 What's Really the Matter

Sunday, May 21, 2017


Our late night errand to the store to pick up dishwashing detergent is not going as well as I'd like - the dog, completely confused as to why we would need to go anywhere but home after she's done peeing, keeps looping around behind me and trying to head back the way we came.

At the crosswalk, a young woman in a black, flowy blouse falls in step with us while she smokes her cigarette, and watches in a amusement as I encourage Coco to step it up.

"Come on, all the cool dogs are doing it," she chimes in. "With that face, you could be running the Iditarod, and I'm not the only one who's said so."
One year ago: Priorities
Two years ago: Something Shifted
Three years ago: If They Can Ignore Spring, What Chance Have You Got?
Four years ago: Her Friends Were Nice, But I Needed Maté
Eight years ago: 5/21/09 - Defeated, For Now
Nine years ago: 5-21-08 Picky, picky

How Long Ago Was "The Past?"

The tunnel out of the park is unlit, and lined with wooden benches built into the curved walls, which seems like sort of a strange place for benches.

"Do you think there was ever a time when they were used?" Katie asks as we walk through.

"Maybe like in the sixties, you know, hippies sitting around, playing guitars," I say.

"I was thinking a lot earlier than that," Katie replies.
One year ago: Tumor Envy
Two years ago: Morale Officer
Three years ago: Fudge Factory

Saturday, May 20, 2017

All Us Rats

In the wake of the train, down on the track a rat meanders between the ties, entirely unconcerned. A white patch high on his back is like a badge of honor where either other rats attacked him, or a train clipped him, and took the fur off.

As I peer over the edge of the platform I'm suddenly struck by how much I must trust my fellow man. Here I am standing with my back to dozens, several dozens, of strangers, and yet I am not even slightly concerned that one of them will step up behind me and shove me out in front of a train.
One year ago: She Always Makes Me Laugh
Two years ago: Trying Out Best
Three years ago: Slack MF
Four years ago: Or Maybe I Could Use a Nap
Eight years ago: 5/19/09 - Easy, Killer (I'm just a little dog on a big ol' leash)
Nine years ago: 5-19-08 Social Skills

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Musical Youth

Honestly, I thought I'd be older by the time the artists of my formative years died. 

I put on some of his music, which leads down a rabbit hole: Soundgarden, to Alice in Chains, to Pearl Jam, to Screaming Trees, to Nirvana, etc., etc., and so on.

And like the gradual transition into the Other World in a fantasy book, I feel the past rise up: my youth, like an open throat straight from belly to heart to mouth, the soul a shout. Up and out, to dance at the show, the music pounding around me, anger and passion and confusion, all embodied in a dude up on stage that I so desperately wanted to be.
Two years ago: Food of the Gods
Three years ago: Pregnancy Dreams
Four years ago: Red Head Probs
Nine years ago: 5-18-08 It's Not Okay

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Mourning - Broken

A rush hour train is no place for not one, but two full-sized strollers, but what are you gonna do? People have to get where they have to get.

Between stations, though, one of the children in the strollers begins to wail, a desperate, piercing cry that instantly fills me with rage, and this sudden, overwhelming reaction surprises me, so I try to sit with it, to see where it leads.

Under the rage is fear, right in the solar plexus beneath my ribcage - fear of all the things I have left ungrieved in my life, fear that it will come up and overwhelm me, swallow me, memories of how I used to cry as a child - and as I continue to let it speak, it turns from cold anger into sadness, a little mini echo of the child's sorrow, the two of us mourning all the pain in the world that goes unexpressed.
One year ago: Cyber
Two years ago: De-escalation
Three years ago: Something to Do
Four years ago: Seventh Inning Booty Moving
Eight years ago: 5/17/09 - I'm Everything You Ever Were Afraid Of
Nine years ago: 5-17-08 "Awesome!"

Tuesday, May 16, 2017


I pile frozen veggies on the paper plate, cover it with another paper plate, slip the whole thing in the microwave, press play, and stand in the office pantry with a not-so-bright look on my face, while they revolve in the invisible storm of electrons that will eventually warm them to steaming hot.

The new guy walks in, and I introduce myself with a handshake which he limply returns.

"It's so hot outside right now," he says. I raise an eyebrow, and he stammers, then continues. "Not really, I just wanted something to say."
One year ago: Work to Do
Two years ago: Neighbors
Three years ago: They Must be Flaring All the Time
Four years ago: Ooooh, Burn.
Eight years ago: 5/16/09 - If I weren't so emo, I might accidentally kick somebody's ass
Nine years ago: 5-16-08 Mutt and Jeff

Monday, May 15, 2017

Breathing Trees

I'm really getting into it now. The wind is picking up as the sun goes down, and our decision to sit out on the patio is starting to seem like maybe not as good an idea as we thought.

"Look at the trees and imagine: every nine months your lungs shrivel up and fall off," I say.

Katie is having none of it, though, saying, "No, it's just that their time goes by so much slower that they're just breathing once a year."
One year ago: Our New Addition (Tumor Edition)
Two years ago: Disppointed in the Body
Three years ago: Attention to Detail
Four years ago.: Just Don't Call Her Late for (Insisting On) Breakfast
Eight years ago: 5/15/09 - I talk too much (again)
Nine years ago: 5-15-08 - Paranoia, Stil.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Let's Ride Bikes

Yesterday was a wash, literally: the rain precluded any outdoor activity but the most essential errands and chores, and while we made do with fondue and movies, libations and conversations, records and games, even so I found myself at the end of the day a little restless, and hoping for a more outdoors-y tomorrow.

Something in the air this morning, then, some scent, maybe, or the quality of the light squeezing in around the sides of the blackout curtains, must have tipped me off, because I woke up hours before my alarm was set to go off, fully alert and raring to go. I knew, somehow, that today would be perfect for what I had in mind, and I felt like a kid at Christmas waiting for Katie to wake to tell her - today, we ride bikes.

Later, soaring over the East River as we crest the arch of the Manhattan Bridge on the way back into Brooklyn, my chest fills with a sigh of contentment, and I push the pedals a little harder to pick up speed, my muscles singing in praise of our efforts assisting gravity, and me, my bike, and my happiness together all fall from the sky like a hawk coming out of the sun.
One year ago: Good To Know
Two years ago: Hallucinate a Preacher
Three years ago: But Only Almost
Four years ago: Maybe I'm Not Ready to Quit My Addiction
Eight years ago: 5/14/09 - Until Blogger Gets Its Shit Together
Nine years ago: 5-14-08 Actually, That Was Me

Admittedly, She Was On the Phone

One of my earliest memories is from when I was a small child in Ohio, walking home from pre-school with my mother and listening to the percussion of rain falling on the hood of my raincoat.

When I bring the dog down for her morning walk, there's a woman sheltering in the doorway of our apartment building talking on the phone. She steps out of the way when I come up behind her to go outside, and she quickly retreats to the slightly less meager comfort of the doorway of the shop next door. 

The rain patterns the hood of my jacket, reminding me of the sound of rain from my childhood, but when I try to indicate to the woman, mostly via hand gestures and significant looks, that she should feel free to get back on our stoop, if that's what she wants, she just looks at me like I might be crazy, just for trying to talk to her at all.
Two years ago: Equation of Time
Three years ago: Flex
Four years ago: Good Advice

Saturday, May 13, 2017

The Parable of the Broken Doge

The man in the knitted dread tam and his wife watch the doge curiously while she stares off into space, her head tilted to one side because of her dizziness.

"A man I know," the man says, as Coco strains at her leash then, stops and stands like a cow, "adopted a dog with three legs. He wanted a dog that was different from the others."

"How will we tell each other apart if we don't have blemishes?" the woman adds, nodding sagely.
One year ago: A Banner Night
Two years ago: Puppy Patrol
Three years ago: Spoilers
Four years ago: Darkness at Noon, and Most of the Day, Actually

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Not Brave

They're laughing when I step on the train: a good looking couple, the guy in skinny jeans and a soft, loose green sweatshirt, the girl in an off the shoulder t-shirt and shimmery matte gold tights. I want to like them, I do, but the girl is committing one of the cardinal sins of subway etiquette by leaning up against the subway pole like she owns the place, and the pole splits her butt cheeks so that one cheek rests on either side of the pole, a study in soft gold and chrome.

What I want to do is grab the pole, just above her ass, and stick a knuckle right into the small of her back, so that when the train jostles us, she's thrown back onto it and leaves with a bruise and a reminder to be a little less selfish next time.

But what I do is grab the pole as high as I can without straining, so that my knuckles brush the back of her head, and every time the train comes to a stop, her braids bounce gently off the back of my hand, all the way down into Brooklyn.
One year ago: The Vast Wasteland
Two years ago: Me Too
Three years ago: Better With Age
Four years ago: Cerberus Minus One
Nine years ago: 5-11-08 BIKESi

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Demented and Sad, But Social

As the political scene gets more fraught, social media becomes simultaneously more informative and more full of noise. "You know, I've hung out with him, maybe twice?" Katie says of a friend of ours who moved away a few years ago who always posts good stuff. "But based on our interactions on my Facebook feed, I'm pretty sure I'd be okay giving him a kidney."

"I'm sure he'd be happy to know that," I say, laughing. 

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

An Unknown Sadness

Second day after our epic bike ride, and now is when I really start to feel it: shoulders tight, skin sensitive, headache, the whole thing. Despite all this, the dog still needs walking, so I pick her up and carry her down to do her business, as she really can't do stairs anymore.

When she's done pooping, and we're about to go back up, we pass a woman walking down the street by herself, dragging a rolling suitcase behind her, no coat even though the night is cold and moist, her face a tragedian's mask, tears rolling down her face.

She passes us as Coco clambers up the stoop to the front door, and I watch this woman retreat into the Brooklyn night, thinking how good I have it, wondering how many places the same scene is being reenacted right now - a person crying, walking away from something, or toward something, another person watching, ignorant and sympathetic, but unable to change anything.
One year ago: Family Values
Two years ago: Women's Liberation
Three years ago: Polite
Four years ago: A Creature Driven and Derided by Money
Nine years ago: 5-9-08 Small Victories

Monday, May 8, 2017

The Difference

"I think in certain places, like maybe Iceland? they do last names matrilineally," I say to our friend whose last name ends in patronymic suffix.

"Wait, are you mansplaining her name to her?" Katie asks with a teasing smile.

"No, I'm showing off," I say. "There's a difference."
One year ago: Mother's Day
Three years ago: She Wants to Help
Four years ago: A Metaphor for Post-industrial New York (Or Something)
Nine years ago: 5-8-08 Man's Best Friend

Boiling the Frog

I stopped being able to feel my feet five miles ago, back in Queens, but there's still about ten miles to go before we're done riding our bikes through all five boroughs today. The clouds have come up, hiding the sun and keeping it cool as we ride along the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, but it seems to be getting tougher, not easier, to keep our speed as we get closer to the end.

"Wait," Katie finally says as it continues to get harder to pedal, and the Verrazano Bridge looms above us in the distance, "This isn't flat."
One year ago: Considered Opinion
Two years ago: Superpowers
Three years ago: Running to Stand Still
Four years ago: Longest Conversation We've Ever Had
Nine years ago: 5-7-08 Nodding Off

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Despite Our Best Efforts

Our bikes lean against the back of the park bench where we sit, basking in the unexpected sun, eating bagels and not talking.

"It's really great," I finally say, taking in the grass, the blue sky, the breeze ruffling the new green leaves, the quiet pond, a bird singing quietly to itself nearby.

"The way the earth hasn't forsaken us?" Katie says. "Yeah, that is great."
One year ago: A Long Week
Two years ago: Why Am I Surprised?
Four years ago: Great Minds and All That
Nine years ago: 5-6-08 (supplemental)

Friday, May 5, 2017

I Get Enthusiastic

As the conversation continues, my CEO and I get increasingly enthusiastic and garrulous about the 5 Boro Bike Tour we're both going on on Sunday.

"Well, if we don't meet beforehand, we can meet at the end in Staten Island at the lunch, right?" I say as he nods happily.

"Scott?" says my boss, walking up, the grin on her face not quite reaching all the way up to her eyes, and suddenly I remember the urgent project that I've been working on all morning for her.

"Please focus?" she pleads, and I can feel my face reddening.
One year ago: But, Tacos!
Two years ago: Mourning in Parallel
Three years ago: Prideful Knifework
Four years ago: The Opposite of "Fetch"

What We're Looking For

The wild-eyed man with the shaggy hair and two unlit, half-smoked cigarettes angled out from either corner of his mouth does a quick, juddering dance step at something that startled him from the sidewalk.

He tiptoes back around to examine it, but it's only a silvered gum wrapper fluttering about in a breeze. He watches it carefully for a moment, willing it, perhaps, to change into something else, and then continues on his way, eyes still on the sidewalk.

Maybe he was hoping for a lighter or (more likely) a coin, or paper money, something to keep him walking, or something he could use to buy a place to rest.
One year ago: Is There a Ghost In My House?
Two years ago: Please
Three years ago: All We Like Sheep Have Gone Astray
Four years ago: How Did She Know...? Oh, that.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Better to Have It and Not Want It

While I scribble my name on the already full delivery sheet, the guy from the armored car service hands me my department's MetroCards. It's a pretty small shipment this week, and he shakes his head.

"Coulda mailed these to you," he says ruefully. 

"When you bring us the big bunch worth five grand," I say, indicating his gun with a tilt of my head, "I imagine you'll be glad you have that."
Two years ago: Sins of the Father
Three years ago: Not Even Close
Four years ago: It Fits Him Perfectly

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Biking Makes It Better

The tires spin faster, and the wind blows past my ears with a wooshing sound. I circle the park on my bike, but I feel like Katie and I are the still point, orbited by trees and runners and the wind, the clouds above us, the moon climbing the sky.

I didn't have a great day, but it doesn't matter now. We push the pedals, lean into the wind, let gravity turn us into bullets down the hill, and trouble, sadness, boredom, all of those heavy emotions get left behind, too slow to keep up with our velocity.
One year ago: It's May Right Now, Isn't It?
Three years ago: Street Portrait
Four years ago: PSA, Just in Casse

Monday, May 1, 2017

Flew In From Miami Beach BOAC

After nine hours of travel (an hour on a bus, another hour-and-a-half on a train, another bus, and a delayed flight) we finally arrive at LaGuardia. We're tired, and sad our vacation is over, but the cool air of Queens is refreshing after the thick, wet humidity of Miami Beach.

"I likes to drink my water, and breathe my air," says Katie with a smile as both of us breathe deep. "And never the twain shall meet."
One year ago: Ghosts of Roommates Past
Two years ago: Obligation
Three years ago: Beltane
Four years ago: Trying Our Best, Being Friendly