Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Getting the Shaft

We come down the escalator after the movie to the mezzanine, where we pause in our conversation while Katie peers through the clear elevator doors on the far wall.

The light makes the thick plastic glow purplish-pink. We can see up the elevator shaft three stories to the top floor, and down another two stories to the ground.

"Ooooh," Katie says, and I feel a little thrill of vertigo as stare down the long emptiness to the ground.
One year ago: Moving Day
Two years ago: Pagans
Three years ago: That Turned Dark Rather Quickly
Four years ago: Extremes
Five years ago: Hypochondria

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Mnemonic Key

I do the cycle of pockets one last time before I really start to panic: right, then left jacket pocket, then right and left jeans pocket, then back pockets. No key.

After checking under the truck, then retracing my steps, I head downstairs to the storage space, my mind racing with paranoid imaginings where someone has picked up the key to our rented truck and is just waiting for me to walk away so they can steal it.

My anxiety must show on my face, because when I ask Katie if she has the key, she pulls it out slowly with a slightly pitying look, and I simultaneously remember that I gave it to her not more than fifteen minutes ago.
One year ago: Vindicated
Two years ago: Objection: Leading The Witness
Three years ago: Fail Better
Four years ago: Maternal Wisdom
Five years ago: You Spend a Third of Your Life In Bed

Monday, February 26, 2018

The Fog Makes Everything Creepy

The fog halos the streetlights as the dog jigs sideways down the sidewalk for her last walk of the night. The streets are empty, except for this guy who crosses the street in the middle of the road to walk past me and doge.

My limbic system immediately goes on high alert, and I grab my keys and put on my mean face. The doge sniffs a tree unconcernedly as the man passes within a few feet of me on the otherwise uninhabited street, and we walk to the front door, unmolested.
One year ago: Floating
Two years ago: First Impressions
Three years ago: Looks at Books
Four years ago: The Homestead Inside

Sunday, February 25, 2018


"This biologist came into the booth today," I tell Katie as we're sitting on the stools at the kitchen table. "He deals with, like, invasive species, and I did not," I say raising a finger pointedly, "talk about kudzu, and talked about invasive Argentinian red ants instead." 

"Good job," she says, "but kudzu isn't an invasive species."

I just figured everyone talked about kudzu, and he probably was tired of hearing about the one invasive species everybody thought they knew about.
One year ago: Remora
Two years ago: Alone Together
Four years ago: Dinner And A Show
Five years ago: Not That Different

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Not Leaving

March, Katie and I have agreed, is gonna be us hanging out, watching movies, and deep-cleaning the house of the devastation we have wrought upon it for the last several months as we've gotten her business off the ground. 

Trudging up the stairs after the doge's last walk of the night (she clambering awkwardly up in front of me, one laborious step at a time), I imagine, for instance, taking up all the rugs in the apartment and scrubbing the wooden floors that lie concealed beneath to a warm golden glow.

This satisfying image gives way to a further image of the rugs, gone, and all the furniture too, and everything out of the apartment to the bare white walls, the way it would look if we were moving out. The very idea of leaving this place (something we have no intention of doing) fills my heart with a heavy, wet sadness, and I have to pause at the door to let it settle before going inside to get ready for bed.
One year ago: Encouragement
Two years ago: The New Technique
Three years ago: Drunk and Cold
Four years ago: Worst Cabbie Yet

Friday, February 23, 2018

Morning Argument

She's furiously texting, walls of blue scrolling up the screen, interrupted only by small, pleading gray replies. "I deff don't need compliments but I can't handle when you" too far and fast for me to follow over her shoulder.

I adjust my grip on the subway pole. She stabs "send," turns the screen off, and clutches it to her chest, knuckles whitening.
One year ago: Self Talk
Two years ago: She Learned It From Me?
Three years ago: I'm No Cary Grant
Five years ago: I Don't Actually Wear Cologne
Seven years ago: Barbaric Meo-awp
Ten years ago: Wii Would Like to Play (With Your Balls)

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Beats An Office

"I'm losing track of days," I tell Katie at the end of my twenty-fourth straight day at the booth. The cop on TV discusses how to tell if a prostitute in Vegas is dealing drugs.

"Well, a lot of office workers thought yesterday was Monday too, because of the long weekend," Katie says, peering out at me from where she's laying underneath a flannel blanket.

"Same, but without the despair," I say, nodding.
One year ago: General vs. Specific
Two years ago: Becoming Something Beautiful
Three years ago: Another Long Walk Through Winter
Four years ago: Spite
Five years ago: She Said It Would Be Cold
Ten years ago: This Old, Cold World

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Somebody Had to Start The Fire

The woman gets up from her table and, in putting on her jacket, nearly knocks over my drink. The hostess quickly assesses the situation, quietly slips over and, with a few deft adjustments, secures the safety of our drinks and makes sure the lady's jacket doesn't get wet.

We exchange glances, the hostess and I, and in response to her apologetic eye-roll I mime placing the oblivious woman's still dangling sleeve over the candle and setting it alight.

"Like that Billy Joel song, except you did," the hostess says, laughing.
One year ago: Winter Takes a Holiday
Two years ago: Like This
Three years ago: Unfair
Four years ago: Mysophobia is Occasional Common Sense
Five years ago: Stand Clear

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Bleed Through

"I spent a lot of time on Twitter today," I tell Katie as we sprawl exhausted on the couch at the end of the day. "I might have cursed this one guy to baldness when he gets older."

We watch the couples dance across the ice on TV, and I find myself picking at tiny little mistakes, and feeling a sort of exhausted, dark pleasure at cleverly pointing them out.

"You seem a little mean today," Katie finally says with a concerned look in her eyes.
One year ago: Winter Takes a Holiday
Two years ago: Like This
Three years ago: Unfair
Five years ago: Stand Clear

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Staying In Touch (With My Feelings)

"Are we FaceTiming?" my Dad shouts over the phone after he picks up, and so I pull the device away from my ear and punch the button that brings up his friendly face on my screen. I'm lying back in my bed, and I adjust my pose a little in the tiny inset picture of me on the screen to minimize my weak-ish chin.

"Why are you cheeks so red?" he asks, still smiling.

"Oh, I'm just mad about something," I say, realizing, as I say it, that that inconsiderate email I read right before I called them must have gotten to me more than I thought.
One year ago: Forgotten
Two years ago: Relief
Five years ago: Be Willing to be Boring


"Why does the dog hate me drying her off so much?" I ask, semi-rhetorically, as the dog leaps and squirms out from underneath the Shamwow™.

"She hates anything that wasn't her idea," Katie says casually from the couch in the family room where she's watching the Olympics, "which means she basically hates everything."

"Like something divided by zero," I say, while the dog staggers off down the hall, leaving uneven wet paw prints scattered across the carpet.

"The doge is the something," Katie agrees.
Two years ago: What's Good For Me
Five years ago: Maybe That's It

Saturday, February 17, 2018

That Explains That

Through my headphones, over the music, I hear a heavy thud like the sound of someone pounding on a door, and I quickly look down the train, to find a woman at the other end of the car picking up her large old fashioned umbrella which she's just dropped.

That explains that; I go back to my music and staring out the subway window as we pass over Manhattan Bridge into Brooklyn.

Suddenly, a floral, medicinal scent, definite but difficult to identify, faintly reaches my nose, and I again scan the car to try to locate its source, only to find the same woman who dropped her umbrella now vigorously rubbing hand sanitizer into her palms.

From behind her head and back pops a chubby little set of arms and legs, and I see that she's toting around a little one in a baby carrier, so I guess that explains the hand sanitizer, too.
Two years ago: Willful
Three years ago: Another Dog Post
Seven years ago: Bathroom Humor
Ten years ago: A Cry For Attention

Friday, February 16, 2018

Small World

She pushes onto the train, though no one is in her way, and right up beside me where I'm holding on to the pole, utterly indifferent to my personal space. The train has plenty of room where she might stand, but she's already put down her grocery bags and is intently perusing her magazine practically up against me in the shadow of my arm.

My annoyance subsides, though, when I really look at her: she's under five feet tall, super tiny, really. It must be incredibly hard to be short in a big city, and she probably thinks she's just doing whatever she needs to do to survive, pushing her way through an indifferent world.
One year ago: That Old Chestnut
Two years ago: The Ravages of Time
Three years ago: Dog Pee
Four years ago: The Vagaries of Time
Five years ago: Screaming Goats and The Wheel of Karma

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Much Worse

"Armor class five!" I exclaim, after describing a scenario between the dog and the cat to Katie (the doge walked by the cat's perch on the chair, and the cat reached down and slammed her claws into the doge's thick fur, eliciting exactly no response whatsoever).

"Is that some kind of nerdy card game reference?" she asks skeptically as she leans up against the door frame to the kitchen.

"D and D," I say, smiling.

"So, worse," she says.
One year ago: I Am Known
Two years ago: Contrast
Three years ago: The Scientist Considers His Divorce
Five years ago: Drink The Undrinkable Drink
Seven years ago: No Good Reason
Ten years ago: There Is Nowhere That Does Not See You

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

(Sun) Salutations From the Coming Spring

I practice my breathing exercises and yoga early in the morning in front of a SAD lamp, not because I'm particularly depressed, but more as a preventative measure, so my already pretty good mood gets a boost.

As I'm doing it this morning with my eyes closed, though, I notice the light seeping through my eyelids has a distinctly different quality.

When I open my eyes, the lamp is still on, but for the first time in months, out the window behind it, between the buildings across the street, the sun is coming up. I look down at my chest and, instead of the pale bluish glow of LEDs, all I see is the shadow of the lamp, surrounded by a corona of fiery sunlight.
One year ago: Expectation of Privacy
Two years ago: Prescient
Four years ago: Time Travel Weather
Five years ago: Revolving Door
Ten years ago: February in a Nutshell

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Not So Anonymous

The dog sniffs her usual tree (after sniffing her usual rocks), so I stand around with a not terribly bright look on my face until she finishes, and two guys walk by, with a third coming the other way.

"Patrick!" one of the first two says. "We're just going to get a bite to eat beforehand."

"Yeah, I was gonna," his voice drops a little, "work with my sponsor before the meeting."
One year ago: Morning Session
Two years ago: Do You Like PiƱa Coladas?
Three years ago: After a Fashion
Four years ago: We Are Conspicuous At The Comedy Show
Five years ago: The Solution
Teny years ago: My Lungs Are A Swamp

Monday, February 12, 2018

We Can Only Hope

Everyone, including me, seems "off" today, so I am unsurprised when this guy comes on the train, his energy all spikey, and sprawls his long, lanky frame over the bench opposite me.

I keep my headphones on as he tries to engage the couple next to me in conversation, but apparently it's not all that successful, as he ends up shaking his head in disgust at them and lapsing into silence.

But he's not able to stay still for long, and he reaches into the plastic bag he's carrying, pulls out a beer and a lighter, which he uses to pop the top (this despite the medallion from which glowers a disapproving Haile Selassie dangling around his neck), and takes a deep swig.

He makes eye contact with me like he's got something to say, and when I slip one headphone off my ear, he nods darkly and says, "You call on God for the wrong reasons enough, he will come."
One year ago: Not Interested
Two years ago: Overexplaining
Three years ago: The REAL 50 Shades
Four years ago: Meeting, The Other
Five years ago: In New York City, We Are Not Overly Solicitous of One Another's Pain
Ten years ago: Never Complain, Never Explain

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Pessimist Rain

Why are we waiting for the war to start? Eyes glazed over while the news only serves as a timetable for when the monuments will go up.

Rain starts to fall as I walk under the arch memorializing the soldiers and sailors who died in the Civil War, and the air looks unsettled, unfriendly and wary, gray clouds yellowing sickly with light from an unknown source.

It's gonna get darker when the storm starts in earnest.
One year ago: Not Complaining
Two years ago: Bored
Three years ago: Bass-awkwards
Four years ago: I've Got The Look (How Do I Get Rid Of It?)

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Breaking Off the Sky

As I walk to meet Katie after her shift, snow flurries begin to fall, but they only become visible when they almost hit my face. I strain my eyes to see them against the dark buildings to no avail.

They're like little splinters off the pearly gray sky, dissolving when they hit the ground. I pull my jacket around me, but I don't really feel cold.
One year ago: The Price of Inattention
Two years ago: Whatcha Thinking?
Three years ago: Too Many Teeth
Four years ago: The Longest Joke Ends When You Die

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Different Trains

My brain has chewed on this decision for long enough without coming to any conclusion. "I need to stop thinking about this for awhile, so I can make a decision," I say to Katie as we're standing in the subway station.

"See, I can't stop thinking about something until I make a decision," Katie says thoughtfully.

The lights of a train coming around the corner light up the tracks, followed by the roar as the train itself pulls in and grinds to a stop, while on the other side of the platform, a maintenance train, diesel engine chugging away, slowly crawls through the station without stopping.
One year ago: She Didn't Even Know He Was Gone
Two years ago: You've Been Warned
Three years ago: FaceTime Isn't for the Weak
Four years ago: You Kiss Your Toddler With That Mouth?

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Out Of Balance

For about a week, my foot has been going numb as I walk around the city - a sure sign of some sort of nerve compression.

In response, I've shifted the strap of my (often very heavy) bag to the other shoulder.

I can feel the weight of it shifting the angle of my hips as I walk home from the subway, and I think about the way that we try to balance ourselves, unable to avoid the burdens of life, overcompensating and getting out of whack until parts of us go dead or numb and we're forced to change.

I check in with my foot as I step off the curb into the crosswalk, and feeling seems to be coming back into it nicely.
One year ago: Reversal: Earth/Sky
Two years ago: Intrusive Thoughts
Three years ago: What Else Am I Gonna Do?
Four years ago: Snow Walk
Ten years ago: Of Course

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

The Mirror

"New York is different from my home," says the Austrian artist. He's here opening up his first American show, and it's been pretty rough for him, what with agents trying to gouge him and galleries with contracts going for their pound of flesh.

I think of all the trouble I've ever had here, all the times things haven't gone my way, sometimes through no fault of my own, but just as often because of something I did.

"New York is a mirror," I finally say.
One year ago: Danny Pt. 2
Two years ago: She Knew
Three years ago: Poor Workman Blames His Tools
Four years ago: Low Blood Sugar Blues
Ten years ago: Dream of Divine Love

She's Patient With Me

"I wish you nothing but blessings, and a long happy marriage," the guy says slowly, carefully, after taking a look around the booth at all of Katie's sculptures. He turns to me with a smile: "But if you ever got divorced, can you imagine having to take all these into court to do the division of property?"

I laugh, and he warms to the topic. "Or, like, going to counseling, and telling her," miming a beggar kneeling, "'You're patient with butterflies, why can't you be patient with me?'"
One year ago: Meeting Danny
Two years ago: Expertise
Three years ago: Biometric Timebomb
Four years ago: Thankless Work

Monday, February 5, 2018

Pinky Swear

"Please don't run back into a burning building for any of our pets," Katie says to me as she's washing dishes while we clean up after the Super Bowl.

I must have given her a look, because her expression darkens. "Scott, I'm gonna need you to pinky swear to that."

"I don't think I can do that," I say as I herd the dog to the door for her evening walk.
One year ago: Manipulation
Two years ago: Subway Slashings
Three years ago: Sounds the Same
Seven years ago: The Smell Test
Ten years ago: Eli Manning Is Pretty Cool, Yeah

Sunday, February 4, 2018

All Is Forgiven

Stuck in the darkness of the tunnel, on the way into Manhattan, time passing, anxiety rising as I grow increasingly late. Finally the train begins to move.

As we begin to slowly climb the bridge into the sunny blue sky over the river, maintenance men pause in their work on the tracks (the same work that's been causing us to creep along for the last twenty minutes) to watch us pass. One worker in particular leans against a  trestle, exhaustion slackening his expression to bone-weary neutral, and the sight of his weariness unclenches the frustration that has been building in my chest, leaving me free to watch with gratitude the sun glittering the water beneath us.
One year ago: Alarmed
Two years ago: Why Downtown?
Three years ago: Full Moon
Four years ago: Timor Mortis Conturbat Me
Seven years ago: What Goes Around Comes Around
Ten years ago: Accordion Sweetness

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Taking Out The Trash On Two Glasses Of Red

A long day at work and a couple of glasses of wine have me just the tiniest bit buzzed as I take the garbage and the recycling downstairs to put it out on the curb. Not actually drunk, you understand, just the edges on the world are a little bit blunter than when I got home.

I feel, as I round the stairs to the landing on the second floor, an urge to sing very loudly, and not any particular song as much as just a loud "la-di-da-dum" at the top of my lungs.

It's only a passing notion, though, mild and easily ignored, but I realize how really drunk people must feel when they get what seems like a great idea to do something kinda stupid, and instead of waking the building I just keep doing what I'm doing: taking out the trash.
One year ago: Solidarity
Two years ago: Priorities
Three years ago: They Can Smell It On You

Friday, February 2, 2018

Into the Wind

"I don't know where you're going," he says as we're leaving the market at the end of the day, "but my protip is to walk through the market."

This is perfectly logical: his way is a long block indoors, it's quite chilly out, and the wind whips off the Hudson and over the West Side Highway with vicious cold in its teeth to shriek down streets and buffet foolish pedestrians who choose to brave it.

But to follow him, admitting, essentially, that I hadn't really thought things through?

"I'm just gonna walk this way to clear my head," I say cheerfully, feeling the false smile cracking my chapped lips.
One year ago: Genetics
Two years ago: Mundane Mindfulness
Three years ago: Football Is Manly
Four years ago: Sometimes These Things Practically Write Themselves