Thursday, June 29, 2017

A Bright Future In Sales

The street solicitor rolls up on me, all ready to lay down her spiel, when she catches sight of Coco. "Aw, how old is your dog?" she says, shifting tactics, thinking to get in that way.

I meet her with my softest, most gentle demeanor, and start talking about the doge: how old she is, her blindness, her slow descent into dementia, her actual sweetness behind her gruff and neurotic exterior - just chatting, but trying to be as honest and real as I can be.

The dog stands through all of this as silent and unmoved as a cow, until quite abruptly she's had enough and she walks off, pulling me behind her, and the street botherer almost sheepishly just sort of lets me go with a, "Have a nice day," as though, after our real conversation, she's unable or unwilling to transition back into her role of pitchman for unnecessary goods and services.
One year ago: Wait, Do You Think I'm Racist?
Two years ago: Caught
Three years ago: The More Things Change, Part 2
Four years ago: A Soaking

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Back In Harness

The SIM card goes in, and the old phone, the one buried at the bottom of the drawer for three years, spins up. Under the glass of a cracked screen, the old familiar apple logo with a bite out of it gives way to a lock screen I haven't looked at in ages.

A few hours later, I'm sitting in the bedroom, thumbing through Facebook again, and Katie comes in to get me to help make dinner. "Just leave your phone in here," she says, gently taking it from my hands and placing it on the bed.
One year ago: 2016 Doesn't Like You
Two years ago: Obvious Measurement
Three years ago: Apophenia
Four years ago: It's a Very Complicated Office

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

The Difference

"Oh, thank you," Katie says as she notices I've cleaned up the cat barf from her side of the bed (where the cat always barfs, right by Katie's pillow).

"SHAME," she adds, leaning over the cat, who is a bit nonplussed by the sudden intrusion, but otherwise unbothered.

"Do you think cats feel shame?" I ask thoughtfully, as the cat settles back down with her tail curled around her nose. "Embarrassment, sure, absolutely, but I'm not so sure about shame, you know?"
One year ago: The Romance Fades
Two years ago: Not Even the Best At That
Three years ago: The More Things Change
Eight years ago (one of my favorites!!!): Blessings

Monday, June 26, 2017

As If It's My Fault

I've got the green light, and the left turn that cuts across the bike lane at this intersection is supposed to yield to cyclists.

But here comes this cab, clearly doesn't see me, turning right into my path, slowly enough that I can maneuver, but still. 

"Hey!" I shout angrily into his window as I ride past, and he turns, a dumb, confused look on his face, as if he's never seen so outlandish as me (a man! on a two-wheeled contraption!) in his life.

He stops long enough for me to swerve around and continue up 1st Avenue, and as I pass his bumper, he honks, loud and long.
Two years ago: Kids Can Be Cruel
Three years ago: A Good Idea
Eight years ago: celebrating a life

Sunday, June 25, 2017

An Attempted Murder

The crow pose ("kakasana," which has a nice onomatopoetic quality to it) involves balancing the knees on the forearms and lifting the feet off the floor while leaning forward. It's kind of tricky, and it's taken me a couple of years of trying to perfect.

"That was awesome," says my roommate John as I come out of the pose. "I look up and you're just kind of floating there."
Four years ago: Just This Once
Eight years ago: While you were out
Nine years ago: I happen to prefer pop.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Who Else Is Gonna See Me Naked?

We get home from our epic bike ride, red-skinned and exhausted.

"I'm going to have to wear a long-sleeved shirt," I say to Katie as I examine my "farmer's tan" with interest. "To cover up this ridiculous burn."

"From who?" Katie asks incredulously.
One year ago: Tumbling
Two years ago: Away
Three years ago: Illness
Four years ago: The Ravages of Time (no laughing matter)

Friday, June 23, 2017

Seemed Like a Good Idea At The Time

I lift the bike off the rack, only to feel the middle of my back seize up. I set it down gently, but I must be making a face, because Katie asks me what's up, and insists I take a couple of aspirin. 

Later, after we bicker about some inconsequential nonsense, she apologizes for her part, adding, "I guess I'm just not really enthusiastic yet about this forty-mile bike ride tomorrow."

"Me neither," I say, sighing.
One year ago: Chee NO Mo
Two years ago: Rainy Day
Three years ago: "Upside?"
Four years ago: Kids These Days
Eight years ago: Am I using my time well?

Hadn't Thought Of It That Way

"So of course I told her I'd look after her dog while I sat on the stoop with Coco," I tell Katie. "And while she ran in to get her bagels, I decided to take my shirt off, to maybe even out my ridiculous farmer's tan."

"But then Coco got hot, so I let her into the vestibule, and then the woman came out, and she looked a little concerned," I continue.

"So when she got back," Katie says thoughtfully, "the clothed guy with the dog she asked to look after her elderly dog was half-naked, and had lost fifty percent of the dogs he was taking care of."
One year ago: Timing
Two years ago: Cleaning Cure
Three years ago: The Cat Prefers Chess, Maybe
Four years ago: Camelids With Attitude
Eight years ago: Everyone I know will one day die.
Nine years ago: Seriously, is it just me?

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Curse and Cure

"You have to really push," our friend says, and so I dutifully shove the tab of the seatbelt in. The sun is pouring through her open sun roof, and I can feel it tingling on my skin like I'm some kind of vampire.

When we arrive at Ikea, though, the finicky seatbelt refuses to let me go, and my futile efforts seem only to cinch me more tightly into the seat.

Finally, we end up cutting me out of the belt with a pair of scissors from a first aid kit our friend actually bought at Ikea.
One year ago: First World Problems
Two years ago: Ants
Four years ago: Not Interested
Nine years ago: That's Mer-MAN!

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

At the Library

I run my eyes over the spines, searching each font, each design choice (blocky, emotional letters or finely chiseled, reserved serifs? plain, workmanlike matte finishes, or brash, multicolored gloss?) for that special something. I used to do this when I was a kid, too, when I tried to read the adult fiction stacks in my hometown library, working from A to Z, poring through the shelves, waiting for that one title to jump out at me, catch my eye and demand to be read.

And there it is again, too, rising up in me in the present moment: that old sense of longing, the hope that this time I might find the book that will save me, rescue me from myself.

But I know my enemy of old, and I know his ways, so I breathe (the smell of paper and ink, the smell of old wood and dust) and let the feeling pass, until it is enough that I am here, now, and just then my eye snags on a book that turns out to be next in a series I'd started reading a year or so back.
One year ago: Cycling
Two years ago: Ragtimes
Four years ago: Paranoid
Eight years ago: my inexplicable heart
Nine years ago: Up on the Roof

Monday, June 19, 2017

Warm Up for Dog Days

The thick, sticky heat only seems to increase as the day goes on, and even a quick detour through the spray from an opened fire hydrant does little to cool our bike ride home. We dart in and out of traffic around trucks parked in the bike lanes manned by a handful of men in fluorescent orange vests and hardhats sweating out their lives on the hot asphalt,  

On the homestretch, now, riding down Vanderbilt and hoping we won't be too sunburned, when we hit a temperature differential. The air goes cool, almost cold, even in the broiling sun, and I can see, riding in front of me, Katie's shoulders visibly relax for just a moment before the heat clamps down again with its heavy, wet, implacable jaws. 
One year ago: Secret Brotherhood
Two years ago: Perfection
Three years ago: Dr. Albert is Friendly
Four years ago: Long Week

Remember Pogs?

"Man, spinners are totally played out," one of the street fair vendors says to another, and from the look of things he's right. We've certainly reached a saturation point with them: almost every tent had a table of the little trilobed plastic things with a weights on the outside, and some of the tables even had super fancy, high-end ones made of brass and enameled paint 

She picks one of the fancier ones up and gives it a spin, and we both have to admit that the tactile physics of the thing are kind of fun, like holding a gyroscope in your hand that resists slightly any attempt to change the orientation of its axis.

"But as soon as I pick it up, I just want to put it down again," she says, laying the thing back in its ostentatious, brass and filigree box like she's putting down something that's kind of oily.
One year ago: Discords
Two years ago: Extra Productive
Three years ago: When You Put it That Way
Four years ago: Sorry
Eight years ago: This damn rain

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Or Were You Just Making Conversation?

The apocalyptic downpour that came through about two hours ago seems to have worn itself out to a drizzle, and I walk back from dropping off compost at the farmer's market with the hood of my rain jacket down, letting the water pelt me as it will.

On my way up the stairs to my apartment, I meet the brother of the brother-sister duo that lives upstairs from us coming down to go out.

"Looks like you missed the worst of it," I say.

"Yeah, it's a low pressure system that's supposed to go through Staten Island on its way up through Nassau County," he says, watching me intently, "and it'll probably end up in Connecticut before heading back out to sea."
One year ago: Confessions
Two years ago: Turn it Off
Three years ago: Sick Thoughts
Eight years ago: Bad Day For Rats
Nine years ago: The Party Boat

Friday, June 16, 2017

Something Fishy

After coming home from dinner, both of us punch drunk from the week we've had, Katie stands on the bottom step of the stair waiting for her customary kiss before going upstairs.

Instead of kissing her, though, I open my mouth and put it over her entire nose, and suck on it for a second.

"It starts out warm, then gets cold, like peeing in the ocean," she says, smiling and rubbing her nose with the palm of her hand after I'm finished. "Especially since you just ate sushi," she adds, "and I mean that as a good thing."
One year ago: Being Friendly
Two years ago: I Am Too Familiar
Three years ago: New Book In the Mail Today
Four years ago: Weiner's Everywhere
Eight years ago: Danke, Dirty Projectors
Nine years ago: echoes

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Hearing Things (Exhaustion Edition)

After dinner, I start awake on the couch with the YouTube video we put on still playing, and Katie attempting to stagger to her feet.

"Going to bed...I'm going to bed," she mumbles, stumbling toward the back of the house.

Later, when I come out of the bathroom brushing my teeth, she's wrapped in a towel from her shower, making coffee for tomorrow morning, and she stops, looks at me, and asks, "Did you just whisper something creepy to me?"

I shake my head no and reply, through a mouth of minty foam, "You need to get some sleep."
One year ago: 'Tis But a Scratch
Two years ago; How Others See Us
Three years ago (one of my personal favorites): Fatherly Advice
Four years ago: Need to Get Me a Hammock
Nine years ago: 6-15-08 Well, thank God I got THAT over with.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017


"Are you fighting on the internet?" Katie says, walking into our bedroom. I'm perched on the bed, furiously typing away. 

I don't answer and keep tapping on the keyboard until I'm finished with what I hope is a scathing retort, then I shut my laptop. 

"I'm done," I say. 
One year ago: Since You Asked
Two years ago: Why Yes. Yes I Would
Three years ago: Delayed

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Subway Stories

"Okay, subway stories," I say to Katie. We're lying in bed with the air-conditioner on blast to try and shake the oppressive heat.

She stares up at the ceiling smiling. "All I'm saying is that if there's a report of a murder on the N train tonight, I know who did it," she says.
One year ago: Wishful Thinking
Two years ago: Absinthe
Three years ago: Delayed
Four years ago: As If What I Want Has Anything To Do With It
Nine years ago: 6-13-08 Strangers

Monday, June 12, 2017

Counterfactual History

"Sometimes I wonder what would have happened if the slave-owning Founding Fathers hadn't done that whole revolution thing," Terry from my writing group says. "Like maybe we'd be a quiet little place, just a little titular connection to the old country, like Australia or Canada. Like how much trouble could we have avoided, and slavery would have been outlawed earlier, all that."

"Oh, I'm sure there are several million people in India who might have something to say about that," Barbara replies as she's leaving.
One year ago: Making It
Two years ago: Absinthe
Three years ago: Used
Four years ago: Still Learning (Family Dynamics Edition)
Nine years ago: 6-12-08 Why Do You Think I'm Living Here?

Sunday, June 11, 2017


The tequila is starting to wear off, and my brain is playing the equivalent of that game where you write texts on your phone using the next suggested word and so you end up with lines like "I take the train delayed orgasm" or whatever it is comes up on your phone. Those words would never come up on my phone.

"I'm dying," I say to Katie as I'm trying to write this and all the stuff that I did today that was very interesting to me at the time (putting together shelves, helping Katie apply to holiday markets, cooking for us, feeding and walking the dog, watching the Tony's) seems dull and entirely unworthy of writing, even though that's the point of all this.

"Do you want me to help?" she replies, leaning in super close and putting her nose right next to my cheek.
One year ago: Encouragement
Two years ago: A Vision of the Future


Driving down 6th Avenue to drop the van we rented for the day back off at U-haul, the cops have all the roads heading west shut down. "Why are they doing this?" Katie asks irritably, knowing I don't know the answer.

Later, we're riding our bikes home, looking for a bite to eat, but 5th Avenue and all the roads leading to and from it are still blocked off, but when we bypass the barriers and go around the cops, we find that they've blocked it off for the Park Slope Pride parade, and as we duck across the parade route to cross the street, Katie is all smiles.

"I just wanted to know why," she says.
One year ago: Beggary
Two years ago:
Three years ago: Avoidance
Four years ago: How Am I Supposed to Hate You If You Insist on Being Nice?
Eight years ago: This Is NOT An Assassination Threat, OK? Lighten Up.
Nine years ago: It Couldn't Be More Perfect

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Strawberry Moon

"Didn't that used to be Kevin's place?" I ask. Katie and I agree that it was, but the heating oil place that used to be downstairs appears to have been replaced by a real estate office, and we shake our heads.

The moon is starting to come up, and I mention that it's going to be a Strawberry Moon, but I don't know why they call it that.

"Probably something straightforward: 'Now's the time to harvest your strawberries," or something," Katie answers.
One year ago: Mawwige is What Bwings Us Togethah
Two years ago: What Are You Waiting For
Three years ago: Tell it Like it is
Four years ago: Typical Brooklyn Sunday (In Some Places)
Nine years ago: Kill, Chat, Kill

Friday, June 9, 2017


The orchestra plays the music of my youth in the neighborhood in which I lived and played for years.  It's cool but not cold, and the stadium is gradually filling up when, during a stirring rendition of the music from "E.T.", the sun breaks from behind a cloud and floods the upper deck of seats with low, golden light.

I tilt my head to watch the clouds moving slowly overhead, and think about how happy I am to be here, and how not too terribly long from now, everyone in this stadium, even the kids who are dancing around enjoying the music from Star Wars and Jurassic Park, everyone of us will be dead. This thought, far from filling me with fear or despair, soothes me somewhat in a mildly sad way, and I lean to my right where Katie is sitting and push the weight of my shoulder into her side, happy just that she's there, and she, slightly distracted by the music, leans back into me, then looks up from the stage and smiles.
Two years ago: The Long Cut
Eight years ago: 6/8/09 Braid

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Lunchtime "Tragedy"

Pile of veggies on a paper plate, microwave two minutes then stir. 

Oh I should get my phone, I think, maybe play a game or read an article.

But when I get back to my desk, my phone is gone. After searching everywhere, I realize: someone stole my phone.
One year ago: Motherly Aggression
Three years ago: Truth
Nine years ago: 6-7-08 Playing the Ponies

Tuesday, June 6, 2017


We know the names of dogs, but not their owners, but since the dogs can't talk, we chat with the owners while we play with dogs.

"We just got back from the lawyer's office," says Serge's owner, a friendly older woman, "where we were making out our wills, and I said we should have a clause, right at the beginning, an extra ten-thousand dollars to whoever takes care of the dog."

Serge presses his lean, heavy, gray head into my hand and wags his tail as she continues: "And my husband says, 'Our daughter Wendy loves Serge, so we don't have to do that.'"

"And I say, "Are you saying that Serge is going to outlive us?'"
One year ago: Missing My Person
Two years ago: Meta-Meta
Four years ago: Chatty. Sorry.
Eight years ago: 6/6/09 - Circle around the park
Nine years ago: 6-6-09 (supplemental)

Monday, June 5, 2017

Gospel of Thomas, Saying 102

Just as the train pulls up, he snakes his way between the woman standing in front of me and the door. He's old, with a cane, shabbily dressed, a ratty baseball cap perched at a distracted angle on top of his balding pate.

I try to give him the benefit of the doubt though, even when the doors open and he shoves his way past the exiting passengers and heads straight for the folding seat in the corner of the train; maybe he needs to sit, I mean, I don't know his life, how much pain he's in.

But instead of folding the seat down and, you know, sitting down to maybe ease whatever's wrong with whatever he needs that cane for, he starts haranguing the car, leaning up against the seat, completely incoherent, maybe not even hurt, just a mean son of a bitch.
One year ago: It (Really) Begins
Two years ago: Fading
Three years ago: Spin Class Epiphany
Eight years ago: 6/5/09 - Short attention
Nine years ago: 6-5-09

Sunday, June 4, 2017


The dog stumbles from one side of the sidewalk to the other, pausing at each little well of dirt that holds a tree. She sniffs past a small empty baggie with a cartoon dog on it emblazoned on it, which claims to contain "potpourri" ("NOT FOR HUMAN CONSUMPTION") but which I know for sure once contained synthetic marijuana.

The thought of the desperation and unhappiness required to put something like this in your body gives me heart palpitations, And its cheerful colors and goofy picture makes me nervous, but I stoop to pick it up.

There's more trash on our doorstep, and I start to wonder if someone left it there, like poisonous, sinister gifts - an ancient condom, a package of Cheese Doodles - meant as a curse offering to try to kill the vibe of a good day.
One year ago: Is There a Ghost in My House (Pt. 2)
Two years ago: Nothing's Free
Three years ago: Dangers of an Audience
Eight years ago: 6/4/08 - Some Days
Nine years ago: 6-4-08 Shaving

Sassy Commitment

Everyone's out in the greenmarket at the entrance to the park, a friendly sun shines cheerily in a Disney blue sky, a delicious breeze ruffles hair and fur, playfully snatches hats off heads and sends them tumbling toward attractive strangers, and overall people are flashing just defiant amounts of skin at each other via shorts and muscle shirts.  Even the volunteers at the composting collection station are feeling sassy.

"Let's put it this way:" one says after a friend compliments him on his commitment to the cause, "until every fossil fuel company is defunct, I'll be here, doing my part."

"Oh, I bet you'd still come here," his friend says admiringly.
One year ago: Still Got Some Life Yet
Two years ago: Out of Practice
Three years ago: Putting Off The Inevitable
Four years ago: Or What to Write Here
Eight years ago: 6/3/09 - Dropped
Nine years ago: 6/3/08 "Antland, Antland, Over All"

Saturday, June 3, 2017


The old man in the badly fitting blue suit runs by, his shoes flapping urgently on the sidewalk. He's waving frantically, flagging down the bus that just pulled up down the block.

I remember stubbornly walking through the parking lot at Desert Sky Pavilion that winter 25 years ago as my friends urged me to run; walking even though they were running to get in, even though the Grateful Dead had already started playing, the notes of "Dark Star" floating out beneath the blue.

Some people would prefer to miss the bus than run, no matter what the cost.
One year ago: Foot in Mouth
Two years ago: The Human Condition
Three years ago: Nothitarian
Four years ago: A Sense of Humor Like a Cat
Eight years ago: 6/2/09 - Seriously, it's freaking me out.
Nine years ago: 6-2-08 Fathers and Sons

Thursday, June 1, 2017


I do my breathing exercises, then I listen to some binaural beats to focus and calm my mind. Lastly, as the suggestion of a friend of mine, I journal for ten minutes, just to get the juices flowing and unlock the hyperverbal part of my brain.

Finally, the familiar theme plays, and we're off to the races: a few easy ones at the beginning ease away the jitters, and then I'm flying through the questions, guessing where I don't know for sure, and answering with assurance where I do.

I finish, and the house is quiet around me, and I feel strangely at peace, while the cat lays next to me, breathing slowly, her white fluffy belly rising and falling, her paws flexing gently in the air, entirely unconcerned with game shows, or trivia, or anything at all.
One year ago: A Near Miss
Two years ago: Thwarted
Three years ago: Estranged
Four years ago: Bodysurfing Meditation
Eight years ago: 6/1/09 - this happens every once in a while
Nine years ago: 6-1-08 There, but for the grace of God...