Sunday, December 31, 2017

My Mother's Car

We put the top down at the stoplight before we get to the highway, since "What's the point of driving a convertible if you're not going to use it?" as Katie says.

But once we're on the highway, the romance wears off fast as the wind whips our hair (especially Katie's long, thick hair) into rat's nests and furious knots. Plus you can really feel the speed at which you're barrelling down the road when you're actually able to clock the windspeed on your face.

Then there's the people driving even faster than you, the speed demons screaming down the left lane beside you, the whine of their motors and the reeeeen of their tires as they shriek past calling out "death, death, death," right next to your head in your low slung convertible, barely something to notice before they're here, there, gone.
One year ago: I'm Only Six Four, Tops
Two years ago: We Know Our Own
Three years ago: Tempus Fugit
Four years ago: Maybe I'M The Problem.
Ten years ago: She'll Be Coming Round the Mountain

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Tadpole Ln and Crystal Stream

After driving in what I'm pretty sure is the right direction for about a half-mile, I realize I have no idea where I'm going, so I pull over into a driveway blocked by a gate with signs that read "DANGER - HIGH VOLTAGE" all over it. I need to think.

Getting to the smoothie place was easy, but it was only when I was on my way back that I realize that driving to "Current Location" to get back to my parents' house isn't going to work, since my "Current Location" is currently the smoothie place, and I have no idea of my parents' actual address.

I start to panic, until my brain coughs up the names of the cross streets, names unusual for being so water related in a land so void of moisture of almost any kind, as if they were less descriptive than aspirational.
One year ago: Don't Look Away
Two years ago: That's On Me
Three years ago: Who Knows How She Knows
Four years ago: Comments On The Bukowski Documentary
Ten years ago: We Gotta Get Out Of This Place

Friday, December 29, 2017

Shooting Script

"I'm a New York liberal shooting a gun for the first time," I tell the gun range monitor as I return the target to him at the office, "and I just wanted to say thanks for taking care of us."

"Well, I'm a Nevada conservative who voted for Trump out here every day," he replies without a hint of a smile, "and you're quite welcome."

We drive out of the clustered dirt berms separating the lanes where people come to shoot, and back to the highway where we drive back to Vegas surrounded by creosote and scrub brush beneath a dusty blue southwestern sky.

"This looks exactly like where they shot 'Tremors,'" Katie says, gazing out the window.
One year ago: Shower Talk
Two years ago: Back to the Grind
Three years ago: Innocent in Dreams
Ten years ago: Hell is Other People (Booking Your Air Travel)

Thursday, December 28, 2017

That Cold Thing

While Katie goes inside with the dogs, I get out of my parents' hot tub and stand on the flagstones of their back patio, staring up at what stars I can see.

The desert air is cold, all the day's heat having dissipated up into the sky, and my skin steams like my breath as I find Sirius, Betelgeuse, the Pleiades, all my favorite stars and constellations. The chlorine from the water tightens my skin and stings my eyes.

I stand stoically for a while, pleased with everything while the hot tub burbles happily to itself, but when Katie comes back out, she says, "Are you doing your cold thing in your parents backyard?"
One year ago: Turbulence
Two years ago: An Ill (-ish) Wind, Pt. 2
Three years ago: I Am Known
Four years ago: Home
Ten years ago: Mexi-can or Mexi-can't?

Wednesday, December 27, 2017


Before dinner, each of us takes turns holding my brother-in-law's gun, a new .357 Magnum. It is a clean, heavy piece of mechanical technology, and its burnished steel parts move smoothly and quietly, like a well-made steam engine: both anachronistic and beautiful.

As I pass it to Katie, I'm reminded of a conversation we had many years ago with my mom about gun ownership. Katie spins the cylinder, which blurs silently, then, with a flip of her wrist, snaps it back into the body of a gun, where it settles with a satisfying click, and then she gives a big smile.
One year ago: Lazy
Ten years ago: Absolution

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Psychos With Touchscreens

Katie motions me to look between the seats to the video screen of the person sitting in front of us on our flight to Vegas. "This woman has only looked at ten seconds of, like, forty different movies for the last three hours," she says with a look of horror.

"I'm not sure what I think is cooler. That she did it, or that you paid attention to it long enough to figure out what was going on," I say, laughing.
One year ago: No Sidewalks
Two years ago: The Holidays Bring Up Feelings
Three years ago: Smart Dog
Ten years ago: Melancholy Christmas

Monday, December 25, 2017


"Mushroom barley soup saved my life," I tell Katie, ladling the stuff into a paper cup. It's three PM and we're at Whole Foods by Union Square, looking for food, since I haven't eaten anything since late last night.

"I was starting to get sick at work," I continue, "and I ate some mushroom barley soup and I instantly felt better on, like, a cellular level."

A little later, she's standing at the window, taking a panorama photo of the park where we've spent every single day for the last month, and she slowly moves her phone from left to right over the landscape where thousands of shoppers buy last minute gifts for the holidays.
One year ago: Flying Home
Two years ago: What, 'cause She's Black?
Three years ago: An Antidote for Smells and Bells
Four years ago: A Gnostic Christmas

Sunday, December 24, 2017


At 3:00 AM I carry the doge downstairs for her final walk of the night. The streets are quiet and empty, and the LED Christmas lights of the cafe across the street blink in a mulitcolored shimmery sort of way.

Though it's been a while since I've thought of it, tonight I find myself with clenched fists, thinking about being mugged, and the empty streets seem more menacing.

As I'm coaxing the doge back up the front steps, a guy in an a tan slacks and a white polo shirt drives slowly by, the only car on the street, and I find myself strangely worried that someone will climb out of the car and mug me.
One year ago: Go Whistle
Two years ago: I Actually Did Do That, Though/
Three years ago: 12 Legs Toward Dreamland
Four years ago: I Just Seem Approachable, I Guess
Ten years ago: Mama Wants a Gun

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Tyranny of the Clock

At some point, the lateness of the hour suggests that "today's" entry was actually written "tomorrow" for "yesterday." It's been four years since I missed one of these, though, so I'll be damned if I miss it over a little thing like the tyranny of the clock.

Late at night, there's nothing but cop shows and hour-long commercials that the channel guides euphemistically call "paid programming." I sit at the dining room table, singing country music songs to myself, tying labels to glass containers filled with butterflies while on TV men and women get arrested for various misbehaviors that, in the grand scheme of things, aren't bad enough to really warrant the kind of treatment they get.
One year ago: Cleaning Up The Meth You Made
Two years ago: Booze Is a Depressant
Three years ago: Which Explains a Lot, Really
Ten years ago: Putting it Together

Friday, December 22, 2017

Swept Left

Standing in the subway, waiting for the R train to come ("3 minutes away" says the countdown timer, but who really knows?) and my blood is still vibrating with rage from that guy upstairs on the corner.

He was yelling at kind of everybody, but then he started talking smack to me, too. "Oooh, faggot, gonna suck his cock?" he says to me, indicating some random passerby while I stare resolutely forward, trying to ignore him. .

The train pulls into the station and I visualize the jerk floating in front of me, hovering over the tracks, but as the train hurtles by, his shade is shoved down the station to the other end of the platform, and he becomes little more than a memory.
One year ago: Inadvertently Funny
Two years ago: Blast Zone
Three years ago: It Didn't Help
Four years ago: Make Believe
Seven years ago: Cold Winter's Night That Was *So* Deep

Thursday, December 21, 2017


I'm walking down the sidewalk past the Methodist Church (one of four churches, I think, that I pass on my walk to the subway) when I remember this meditative singing, called Taizé, we used to do at the Methodist Campus Christian Center when I was in college.

Taizé is a lovely, calming practice of singing repetitive, chant-like hymns by candlelight until the mind and heart enter into a state of prayerful peace, and in remembering it, I thought how nice it might be to practice that again, to feel that connection to some higher power that is somehow simultaneously the dynamo at the heart of the universe, and yet also as personal and intimate as my own pulse.

And suddenly, as if it had been waiting for just such a cue, a spark ignites at the center of my chest, loving and longing, reminding me that I am connected, whether I know it or not, not only to the fire at the heart of creation, but to everyone I meet, to the sidewalk beneath my feet, to the sleepy trees ready for winter, to the crisp air that tugs at my hat and pushes me along the street.

"Yes," the spark whispers, waking from a long slumber, "it's Christmas."
One year ago: An Instinct For Empathy
Two years ago: HD Killed the Video Star
Three years ago: Everybody Needs to Learn Manners
Seven years ago: Save All Your Love
Ten years ago: Perspective

Wednesday, December 20, 2017


The fellow at the hardware store directs me to the rubber gloves, and I spend only a few minutes finding the pair he says are strong enough to stand up to the acetone we use to clean certain pieces of glass Katie uses for her sculptures. Katie's pretty sure they'll just dissolve in solvent, but I'm not so certain..

A few hours later, however, after a hole has been eaten in my sad little gloves (and right at the fingertips, too), I pull them off and keep working, despite the stinging as the thousands of littte cuts and abrasions as acetone fills them with pain.

Afterwards, Katie throws out the gloves without so much as an "I told you so."
One year ago: Those Were the Days
Three years ago: The Habits of Houseguests
Four years ago: I Panicked
Ten years ago: Flying

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Real Fur

"I'm sorry," I say to the woman wearing the winter coat with the fur-lined hood. "Someone put something on your jacket, and I'm going to get it off, okay?"

I pull off the sticker and show her the thing, a bright yellow square with black, block letters declaring, "I'm an asshole - I wear FUR."

I apologize to her for someone doing something so rude and unnecessary, but she shakes her head, saying, "But it's not even real fur!"
One year ago: "Here's to the Hearts That Ache"
Two years ago: Jejune
Three years ago: I'm PRETTY Sure He's Joking
Four years ago: Late Night Wine Talk
Ten years ago: Scrabbling for Change.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Too Late to Help

At around 1:00 AM, when I'm just starting to tidy up in the kitchen, a small, despairing cry from the front of the house has me running down the hall to the dining room where I find Katie standing next to a table full of new pieces to sell tomorrow, calmly putting a lamp up on a bookcase.

When I ask her if everything's okay, she looks down with an exhausted expression that someone who didn't know her would think was her feeling pissed off.

"I'm fine," she says. "I just almost knocked the lamp over."
One year ago: Peeing Into the Void
Two years ago: Letting Go
Three years ago: Emotional Head-up Display
Four years ago: Gotta Start Shopping a Little Earlier
Seven years ago: Did You Forget?
Ten years ago: “Squaaaare eyes. Turn the oth-eh way. I don’ wanna see. Ya criy-y-y."

Sunday, December 17, 2017


Katie tells the story of my falling asleep before anyone else last night, and how both she and her cousin could hear my snores from the other end of the house. Everyone at dinner laughs, including me.

As I lie in bed typing these words, she snores delicately next to me, a rhythmic, droning counterpoint to the crime shows that put her to sleep. The dog whines, digs at the floor for a few minutes, then falls asleep herself.
One year ago: The Mask of Another
Two years ago: Holding On
Three years ago: Proverbs 25:21-22
Four years ago: Being "In the Moment"
Ten years ago: Ghosts On My Retina

Saturday, December 16, 2017

I'll Take It

Katie's family has arrived in town, and have been stopping by the booth where we sell her work to admire things.

"It's so beautiful," her aunt says, gazing up at the greenery and twinkling lights Katie has used to festoon the shelves and ceiling. "You know," she says, turning to me, "I've been saying a novena for your success."

"Every thought counts," I say gratefully.
One year ago: Friends
Two years ago: The Set Up
Three years ago: Who Knows?
Four years ago: Starstruck
Seven years ago: Straight to Hell
Ten years ago: Golden Flow Orange Juice

Friday, December 15, 2017

Friendly Ghosts

"I'm tired, but, you know, I'm good," I tell our friend who's come to work the next shift at Katie's booth.

"Oh yeah?" she says smiling, unconvinced.

"Yeah, I mean, I feel like if I could just look there," point behind me over my left shoulder, "I'd see ghosts and stuff."

"Oh yeah, that sounds right," she replies, laughing.
One year ago: Paranoia
Two years ago: An Ill Wind
Three years ago: There's Something About That Name
Four years ago: Just Keep Dancing
Ten years ago: Must Be A Nosedive Party

Thursday, December 14, 2017


It's pretty close to midnight when the doge squats by her usual tree when it starts to snow. A fine dusting quickly accumulates on the sidewalk and street, and Coco looks around in confusion as she becomes frosted across her back and the top of her head.

Katie is still working hard putting pieces together for the market tomorrow, as she has been all night, and understandably she's a little distracted when I come back upstairs and tell her it's snowing.

"Outside?" she says in alarm.
One year ago: So This is Christmas
Two years ago: Rough Trade
Three years ago: Fickle
Four years ago: Just Keep Dancing
Seven years ago: Passing Time
Ten years ago: Where Christmas Lights Come From

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Apologies, Part 2

"The reason I lost my temper with you yesterday," I tell the belligerent optometrist, "is that you told me, when I bought a gift certificate from you with my FSA, that there'd be no problem. But I had to pay for it, because it's totally not legal."

After going back and forth for a bit, he finally says, "Well, if you'd let me know, I could have written a receipt saying you bought some glasses or something, and that would have taken care of it."

"Yeah, I try to avoid lying to the government as much as possible," I reply.
One year ago: Sleeper Car
Two years ago: Dogs Make Friends
Three years ago: Memory
Four years ago: The Cat Saves the Day
Seven years ago: God Doesn't Mind if You Have a Good Time
Ten years ago: Metrocard Athlete 

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

He Called Back to Apologize

"No, see, you have to come in for an exam, since the prescription changed," says the optometrist I've been going back and forth with.

"You see," I finally say in exasperation, "this is why I stopped going there: everything is a hassle with you guys."

"Why don't you just go fuck yourself!" losing his cool in an instant.

"Yeah, you too," I reply, and we both hang up.
One year ago: Christmas Brass
Three years ago: Memory
Four years ago: He's Got My Back
Seven years ago: A Conversation at a Party - 2:30 AM
Ten years ago: There is No Good In Tarot Cards

Monday, December 11, 2017

Where You From?

He's looking down at his phone, absorbed in whatever arrangement of pixels happen to be going on there, so he doesn't hear me say, "Excuse me," but I'm carrying two pretty heavy bags, and so, without touching him, I move past him with a, "Right behind you." That seems to startle him enough to wake him out of his electronic stupor, and he obligingly moves out of the way and further into the subway car.

When we go over the bridge, though, he and his girlfriend get up and look out the window over the East River, down the length of the island toward the Statue of Liberty.

"It's much prettier than yesterday," she says, and he nods, thinking, probably, of a dark sky flinty with snow.
One year ago: Accelerate Out of Danger
Two years ago: Mea Culpa
Three years ago: I'll Be Fine Tomorrow
Four years ago: Among Other Things (But Not Many)
Seven years ago: Sometimes I Get Carried Away

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Talking About the Weather

Bananas, spinach, milk, and a half-tube of cheez flavored Pringles - I lay them on the counter and, while she rings them up, I look through the glass out the front door where the late-fall snow is drifting down in enormous, fat flakes from a frozen smoke sky.

"Pretty bad out there," I say, making idle conversation. But she looks up from scanning barcodes with furrowed brows and says, "Not stopping anytime soon."

When I express surprise at this, she shakes her head, as if addressing someone who is clearly dealing with a serious brain injury, adding, "They say it's gonna keep snowing all through the night."
One year ago: The Physics of Fire
Two years ago: Phone Snatchers Abound in Midtown
Three years ago: Morning Luck
Four years ago: Good Guy Brain
Seven years ago: Late Nights in the Slope

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Dodge Parry Thrust

I sometimes feel as though I'm fencing with customers, parries and ripostes against their cynicism and bitterness.

"But they're not real butterflies, right?" he says, smiling as if he's caught me out in some desperate lie.

I smile back and shake my head, but I know my smile has a bit of an edge. "Nope," I say, "they're all real."
One year ago: Colossus
Two years ago: Overheard at Work
Three years ago: Somebody to Talk to At The Office Party
Four years ago: Dad Jokes At The Wine Shop

Thursday, December 7, 2017

2018 is Coming

2016 was the warm-up: the usual trials and sorrows that we are all heir to (illness, death, regret), but amplified, a border skirmish with the emissaries from the realm of grief and loss.

2017 has turned up the volume on all that 2016 portended, and added the voices of those who would no longer remain silent in the face of suffering; it burned away the facades of pretenders and told us that everything not freely given would be stripped away.

A man stands immobile in the middle of the subway platform, clutching a cane in his enormous hand. The furious swirl of commuters part like water to either side around the vast bulk of him, while he waits for something just out of sight with a look of stoic, smoldering rage.
One year ago: Politeness
Two years ago: Chopping Onions
Three years ago: Magic Beans
Four years ago: An Important Day in a Boy's Life
Seven years ago: Armored

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Abandon Hope, Ye Who Enter

I run up the stairs to the second floor of Whole Foods, my bladder singing a single, insistent note (a P above middle C), to find, thankfully, no line to the bathroom.

But when I walk in, the door to the only stall is closed, and a clear trash bag wraps the only urinal in despair. A smell of the sewer greets my nose as a voice, echoing against the tiles like some damned soul speaking from hell, intones, "No good in here, man."

I stand for a moment, dumbfounded and desperate, only to be recalled to myself when the speaker lets loose a long, ringing fart in the silence, and I beat a hasty retreat.
One year ago: Psalm 121:1
Two years ago: First Rule
Three years ago: Two Wrongs
Seven years ago: The Band is Passive Aggressive, We Are Not

Rent Control

After I confess my rent to the two ladies from Long Island (the daughter of one of them standing off to the side watching, smiling) one of them laughs. "I can top that," she says. "Six bedroom apartment, Upper East Side, he's was born there...," she starts

"He's been living there since 1944," the other chimes in.

"...and when his parents died, he got the apartment for what they were paying and he still pays only," her voice drops to almost a whisper, "a hundred forty-four dollars a month."
One year ago: Secondhand Communion
Two years ago: Old Salt
Three years ago: Lost Pen
Four years ago: Rumors of the Real World

Monday, December 4, 2017


"What about a deal on that piece?" the woman says, naming a price half the value of the item, like she's doing me a favor.

We've been doing this for a few minutes, so I fix her with a look and say, as sweetly as I can, "I'm sorry, but I'm not going to do that."

She stares back for a moment, then shrugs, and gets out her wallet to pay the agreed upon price, only to balk yet again when I tell her she still has to pay tax, even though she's paying in cash.

"If I'm going to pay tax on it, so are you," I say with a smile.
Two years ago: The Bright Side
Three years ago: Cooking Together
Four years ago: Who Cares What You Think?

Am I Psychic?

"Are you humming 'Jolene'?" the woman asks me, incredulous.

I look up from where I'm wrapping the ornaments she just bought with what I'm guessing is a dumb look on my face and say, "Yeah, I guess I am,"

"That's the name of one of the people I'm buying these for, " she says, her eyes wide, gesturing to the ornaments.

"Well," I say in confusion, "did you say it out loud or something?"
One year ago: Who Usually Takes Charge
Two years ago: A Discourse on Unheimlich
Three years ago: Matthew 25:40
Four years ago: Unconscious

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Inferior Trash

For a while, any time Katie and I would finish a bottle of wine during the week, I'd have to hear about it on Friday from the guy who bagged the recyclables for the building. He wouldn't be judgey, exactly, just sort of insinuating, like we were these wild partiers throwing out tons of bottles when in reality we might have a small glass with dinner every night.

Since the market started, though, we've been too busy to even do that, but I've still kept up the habit I got into of bagging up my own recyclables to go out late at night after he goes home.

The only problem is I worry I'm doing it wrong, and that whatever I put out on the curb on Friday night is subject to some arcane set of rules that will cause the recycling guys to reject my trash, and so I wake up Saturday mornings and go to the window, anxious that I'll see my the clear plastic bags stuffed with either paper or glass, metal, and plastic, still there in the light of day, mocking me with their stubborn solidity.
One year ago: Testing
Two years ago: Lighten Up
Three years ago: "Lights, Please?"
Four years ago: Here, You Throw This Away

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Back to Baseline

A show on television about bullying in middle school gets in my head, and I find myself wishing the same suffering I experienced on the children of those who tormented me - constant anxiety, loneliness, confusion in the face of seemingly inexplicable hatred, depression. I even find myself envisioning these children, blameless except for an accident of being born to hateful parents, thinking of killing themselves, the way I used to. 

I realize I need to calm my happy ass down when I’m walking down the street to the train as the schools in my neighborhood are getting out, and the groups of kids, loudly laughing and jostling down the sidewalk the way normal kids do, have me striding faster and faster to pass each of them, my pulse racing angrily.

After my train ride, when I arrive at my stop, the gently rocking motion of the train and the familiarity of the station seems to have narcotized my rage, and I’m able to recall some of my usual benevolence for the crowd; a brass quartet echoes Christmas carols off the subway tiles, and I take a deep breath and manage a smile, 
One year ago: Not His Night
Three years ago: Melancholia
Seven years ago: So Much For Meditation

Friday, December 1, 2017

Slow It Down

One of the greatest joys in my life is to move unselfconsciously: to quickly, gracefully, do the thing that is in front of me, speaking or writing, dressing, walking, catching with the smooth loop of the basketball star the cup falling from the top shelf and putting it back in place. I’m often clumsy for precisely this reason, in that I try to try to do things with this unconscious grace when I haven’t earned the right, either because I’m not paying attention or because repetition and practice have yet to write the grooves into my mind that would allow me to act with such an animal elegance.

But spending hours everyday in the tiny booth where we sell Katie’s glass and butterfly sculptures has forced me to slow down, lest I destroy with a stray gesture of my frankly too large frame some precious thing, or knock over a shelf, or smack a customer in the face.

It’s even bled into my everyday life, and I find myself moving more deliberately as, for example, I take off my scarf on the subway: carefully moving so as not to impinge on others' space, right hand unknots while the left pulls the length of it around my neck and, without allowing it to drag on the ground, I gather it into my now free right hand and bunch it into my bag with what feels like ridiculous slowness and concentration.
One year ago: Kinda True
Two years ago: Barking at Midnight
Three years ago: Nostalgia
Seven years ago: Wound Up