Friday, August 31, 2018

Cold Banishing

A night of sad and violent dreams is partially dispersed by an early morning walk to the park with Katie. We sit on the green grass beneath a gray sky and watch scrums of puppies cavort in the breeze while we chat about puppies and grass and breezes, and how wonderfully they interact.

But the anxiety and shame that I’ve brought back to the waking world from my nighttime excursion into the unconscious is still living in my solar plexus, like a cold, wet rag being wound tighter and tighter, and so after we arrive home I take a very cold shower.

The shock of the freezing water hitting my skin obliterates all thought, all emotion, all tension, in a blast of adrenaline, and I can feel the sadness fading, like someone turning down the volume, until only I am left with the cold against my skin, blood pounding in my ears, and I smile.

Teaching Stories

I lay out my mat to do yoga, but before I start, I have to get Katie’s standing desk, where she’s been making new pieces, out of the way.

In doing so, I knock over a small can of paint which spills glittering gold in a smooth, undulating pool across the carpet and wood floor.

Katie and I spend the next twenty or so minutes cleaning up the mess while my heart sinks at the waste of the very expensive paint, and I have trouble getting my mind to focus when I finally do settle in to my yoga session.

A yoga practice interrupted by the wasting of costly gold paint, subsequent cleanup and inability to let it go - it sounds like a teaching story told by a guru of some sort to inspire wisdom and understanding, but I’ll be damned if I know what it means.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Who’s Better?

“Daisy!” the woman surrounded by dogs in the middle of the park meadow brays, and the absolutely filthy poodle-mix that came up to greet us turns attentively. “Come here!”

“She is absolutely my favorite thing in the mornings,” another woman says as she walks by us with her dog.

“Oh yeah, she’s great!” I enthuse, and it’s at least twenty minutes before I realize that she was talking about the lady with the loud voice, and not the filthy but friendly dog.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Bad Earbuds

“Oh, you were here earlier,” the cashier at the drugstore says when I step back up the counter.

“Yeah, I got about halfway down the block to go home when I realized I had to return these because they’re terrible,” I say, giving her the shitty earbuds and the receipt from when we bought them a few weeks ago.

“Well, that’s really the only kind of earbuds we have,” she says, pointing behind her to the top shelf to the array of different colored earbuds, all from the same brand.

“Yeah, I’ll just take the cash.:

People Will Help

It’s hard to tell if the old lady on the ground is hurt, since she’s sitting up and talking, but she clearly fell, judging by the semi-circle of concerned people gathered around her (one of them on the phone with the ambulance), the way her glasses sit slightly askew on her face, and the angle of her cane laying on the sidewalk.

“Just not adding to the chaos,” Katie says to me after we assess the situation, decide that these nice people have things under control, and continue on our way to the grocery store.

“We are not doing like those Kitty Genovese people,” I add jokingly.

“You know that was debunked, right?” she replies, almost angry.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

“Which Are YOU Here To Do?"

“You can’t block the alley - people pass through it all the time,” the older woman says as she easily walks right past the table at the entrance to the alleyway behind the booth where I’m working today.

Dan, my boss, looks at me, incredulous, and then calls after her, “I’ve been doing the flea for eight years and no one’s had a problem yet.”

“Well, I live here,” she shoots back over her shoulder.

He watches after her for a moment, then says to me, shaking his head, “The people I know who go through that alley are either there to do drugs or take a shit.”

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Self-esteem Issues

“I screwed up our date night,” she says, clearly a little buzzed, “so I’m going to buy him a shirt, like a present.”

After a long, very convoluted process, she finally picks one, and as I wrap it up for her, she pulls up a picture of him on her phone.

When I comment that he’s a pretty good looking dude, she says, “Yeah, he’s cute, and he got stuck with me.”

“He’s doing fine, and you’re doing fine,” I say, fixing her with my most serious look.

Friday, August 24, 2018


“I mean, I try to stay positive, but I’ve been knocked back a few times,” he says as he absent-mindedly leafs through the shirts I’m selling. “Growing up in foster care will knock you back, for sure.”

“But you seem like the king of being positive,” he says, trying, it seems, to take the focus off himself.

“Yeah, well, I’m pretty stoked most of the time,” I say, cringing a little at myself as I say it, then realizing, cringe or no, that it’s true.


This is literally the first time I’ve been outside today, I think as I walk down Seventh Avenue. The sun is out, it’s late afternoon, and a cool breeze stirs the air and brings the smell of flowers to me from the stalls outside the grocery store where they sell bunches of carnations and bundles of small roses that will likely die in a day or two once you get them home.

I think about the journal entry I scribbled down right before I left the house to get groceries for dinner. It seemed really important at the time, but now all I can remember writing is, “God is the name we give to the things we think we lack."

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

What It’s Like Behind Your Eyes

“What do you want for dessert?” I ask. We’re sitting on the couch after working all day - her making more sculptures, me cleaning up the house and prepping her work for sale.

She closes her eyes, to think about her answer, the fading light through the eastern windows falling across her face, and I imagine what it’s like behind her closed eyelids: the darkness, the images of various sweet treats that form and dissolve as she decides.

She opens her eyes again, the hazel and blue looking right into my face, and I smile.


“And I really dedicated myself to her, to this place,” my friend at my part-time job says, sighing, “but now..., I just really need a break, physically and emotionally.”

“Can I give you a hug?” I say gently.

We hug, and I really concentrate to make sure I’m there, trying to give her a good hug, and she startles for a second, then relaxes.

When she steps back, she shakes her head and says, “Well, that was quite a jolt."

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

One Hand Not In My Pocket

The two delivery guys on their electric bikes are taking up the whole bike lane in front of me while they chat, and Katie is pedaling further and further away.

I don’t begrudge them their powered bicycles, since having to keep up with delivery orders on a regular bike seems like it might be unsustainable, physically.

But I don’t like being this far away from Katie when we’re riding together, so I dip out of the bike lane and into the car lane to pass these guys, and to their credit, they don’t speed up as I pass.

A car coming behind us honks at my intrusion into his lane, and I lift up my hand and flash the guy a peace sign before pulling back into my lane, to thank him for not running me down.

Sunday, August 19, 2018

From My Hand

The only dry spot at the flea market is a narrow alley where I sit on the ground to have lunch, so I’m not particularly surprised when three bedraggled little sparrows fly into the alley and land near me to rest.

Two of them notice me, and immediately fly off, but one sits for a while watching me, so I tear off a small piece of the tortilla I’m eating and hold it out.

The bird cocks its head, chirps concernedly, fixes me with a beady little eye, as if trying to gauge my intentions, but I just sit there without moving, and let the tortilla do the talking.

Finally, after a couple minutes of this, the bird hops over, takes the little bit of tortilla from between my fingers, and hops a few inches away to tear it to pieces and eat it.

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Thought About It

“I should really write today, too,” I think while I’m setting up to play guitar.

But that’s putting it too strongly, when what I really did was imagine the feel of the pen in my hand (it’s got two flat sides where my fingers fit to hold it), and the way the notebook lays a lopsided from the mementos I’ve stuffed into the back-cover pocket (maps of the bike paths where we stayed in Hilton Head, a program from a museum we visited in Miami Beach). I thought about the ink, blue on the off-white, lined paper, and the way it flowed like the pen was an extension of my hand.

I didn’t end up writing in my notebook today, though.

Friday, August 17, 2018

Locked Out of Their Air-BNB?

The night is heavy and humid, but a cool breeze blows from the park, so we decide to take a walk down a residential block.

The glow of streetlights are split by the leaves into obscure shade and harsh patches of light, so it’s a little hard to see, but up about half-a-block away, a man drags a suitcase out onto the sidewalk and then repeatedly, furiously kicks at it. He then stops and stands there, his hand up to his forehead.

By the time we get to him, he’s scrolling through his phone, standing next to the bag that was the object of his rage, while a woman (wife? girlfriend?) sits next to another bag on a small wall, not looking at him.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

A Good Idea For A Bad Mood

After my bad mood has worn off, and I’m mostly returned to sanity, Katie and I sit in the kitchen, exhausted by my fit. We’re figuring out dinner, when I notice the flowers that our roommate has purchased for the house arcing out of the vase on the kitchen table in a spray of purple and white.

“He bought flowers,” I tell Katie, stating the obvious, since both of us have been home all day.

“Yeah, and there’s some in the living room, too,” she says, while I smile at his kindness.

Alternative Theologies

Every time I come to Rockefeller Plaza (today it was for a temp gig), it catches me off guard: the statue of Atlas, hoisting the heavens (complete with astrological symbols) on his shoulders, directly across the street from St. Patrick’s cathedral. 

A little bit further away, just below where they put the huge tree every Christmas, they’ve got that enormous statue of Prometheus clad entirely in gold. It doesn’t get more pagan than that.

It’s like the Rockefellers were deliberately trolling the church, saying, “Look, we’re about the kind of gods that get us paid."

Tuesday, August 14, 2018


“So the guy that I dropped the piece off with today was like, six inches taller than me,” I say to Katie while she grabs her dinner. “And he had two bands tattooed right here,” indicating my bicep. “Good looking guy, very polite, gave me the money, got his piece and took off.”

“Well, I have no fun stories to tell today, because you know exactly where I was all day - in my studio,” Katie says with a sigh, then she rubs her temples.

Monday, August 13, 2018

Kid Dreams

The kids in the documentary I’m watching (“The Decline of Western Civilization Part II: The Metal Years”) are only a little older than I was when the movie came out, 16 or 17 years old. The concerts, the interviews, the awkward, constant obsession with sex, all take me back to being that age and my teenage dreams of rock stardom.

Somewhere in Tucson, in the archives of a community cable station, there’s an interview with a dreadlocked, tie-dyed-t-shirt-wearing version of me and a guitarist friend of mine, where we play music, and I end up insisting to the host that my parents disapproved of my music; and I thank whatever God there might be watching over me that most of my most awkward moments occurred before the internet.

I turn off the TV and all the lights in the front of the house, walk back to where Katie is getting ready for bed, and say plaintively, “I don’t want to watch the rock-and-rollers anymore."

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Wash Whites Separartely

I get about halfway down the block with my laundry before I realize I feel a little uncomfortable wearing the t-shirt I’m wearing today. It’s laundry day, after all, so it’s pretty old, and it shows a smiling Barak Obama standing in front of the White House with the words “Under New Management” emblazoned beneath, and somehow, even in Park Slope, I feel like I could be baiting some idiot Trump supporter into some kind of verbal assault. We all know that a picture of Barry is to a Trump supporter as blood in the water is to a shark: it drives them crazy.

I adjust the weight of the large sack of clothes on my shoulders so that it doesn’t crank my neck out of joint, and stand up a little taller as I walk past an older white guy who looks like he might be the type to vote Trump and start fights on the street, but he doesn’t even look at me, and I arrive at the laundromat without incident.

Morning Thunderstorm

It isn’t so much raining sideways as it is raining sort of omnidirectionally, a wild torrent of uniformly dense, congealed humidity that is radiating fast in all directions from a central point that is everywhere at once. The trees seem to be vibrating with rain, the wind seems to be coming straight down, and the entire world is soaked beneath a darkened sky in which the sun might never shine again.

And just like that, it’s over, the heavy clouds have abated somewhat, and Katie sits in the window looking out on a flooded Seventh Avenue, trying to entice an only marginally interested cat to come up and sit next to her.

Finally she opens the window, and the cat immediately jumps up beside her, and the two of them commune over the soggy ruins of Brooklyn while I lay on the floor, huffing in the fresh, ozone heavy air.

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Don’t Flinch

Some faces it’s easier to see contorted in hate than relaxed in love, but that may be a failure of imagination on my part. They’re smiling right now, standing in the door of the train, but their energy is all teenage boy: aggressive, impatient, like they’re about to explode just from being alive.

He feints a punch toward his friend, demonstrating the form, his fists look like stones, or knots at the ends of branches, solid and heavy and dense. His friend laughs, doesn’t flinch.

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Making the Best Of It

But when we get off our bikes at the movie theater, the MoviePass app suddenly can’t remember what we were talking about before we left. “Oh, there aren’t any movies you can go to at this theater!” it now says. “Weird, huh?”

Katie sighs as we go back to our bikes, and says, “Want to go get ice cream?"


Katie and I sit on the couch, phones in hand, reading descriptions to each other of the symptoms of mercury poisoning and the current and past uses of mercury in industry. The couch is covered in a purple slip cover that is thin and soft and somewhat shapeless, but very easy to sit on, while to the right of the couch, stacked up the wall, are boxes and boxes of glass containers to be used for our business, and next to that, a couple of guitars. The coffee table, which a few years ago Katie decoupaged with pages from an old dictionary, holds a couple of remotes, some candles, salt and pepper shakers, a couple of mugs that recently held scoops of homemade vanilla ice cream covered in chocolate syrup, and a silicon “gourd” filled with maté and bomibilla next to a thermos.

We sit for a while, chatting about music, and mercury, and nitrates, and botulism, until we get sleepy, and it’s time to take a shower and go to bed.

Tuesday, August 7, 2018


The sky quickly grows alarmingly dark and full of thunder, and the three of us run downstairs to sit on the stoop and watch the storm come in.

Our landlord comes out of the appliance store that he runs on the first floor to load a dishwasher onto his hand truck, and, seeing us perched on the front stairs grinning like idiots, he shakes his head.

“Just don’t hold hands,” he says, half-joking, and we laugh, as though the idea of lightning striking us here, in Brooklyn, in 2018, were even something that could possibly happen.

There’s a sudden flash of light that turns the entire world into a negative, washed-out version of itself, followed almost immediately by a crack of thunder that seems to fill the universe, and we scurry back upstairs to the safety of our apartment.

Guitar Face

I press play, and Katie listens respectfully to the song I’ve been working on all night. It’s been a while since I’ve sung, so I’m a little nervous about the vocals.

Then it gets to the modulation, the drums kick in, and I’m starting to get really into and apparently it’s showing in my expression.

“Oh my God, what is happening with your face right now?” Katie asks worriedly.

Monday, August 6, 2018


“That’s someone’s family,” the woman says to her friends as she shuffles through old portraitss at the market where I’m working.

“Well, I mean, really, we’re all somebody’s family,” I say, sidling up next to them.

“That’s true,” she says thoughtfully, holding one of the pictures up, “but this really looks like somebody in my family.”

I look at the picture, and it does sort of resemble one of my grandmothers, and I shrug and agree.

Saturday, August 4, 2018


Katie gets up from where she’s doing her morning work unfolding butterflies and opens the window to a rainy morning. The cat, who up to now has been sleeping next to me on the floor while I do yoga, gets up and trots over to the window, her nose twitching.

“Yeah, you don’t usually get new smells when it’s super hot outside, do you?” Katie says, but the cat ignores her, jumps up on the perch we got her, and lays down staring out the window. I watch her side rise and fall with each breath, and then close my eyes and lie back on my mat to concentrate on my breathing.

Moms and Sons

The woman sitting across from me on the train and her teenage son make quite a pair. She is beautiful, well put together, in a colorful, flowery, sleeveless blouse that shows off her tattoos (the symbol for the astrological sign Cancer on her shoulder and a rose on her hand), and high heels, while her son, in contrast, is stereotypically nerdy: tall, skinny, glasses, in clothes that don’t fit, and a slightly dreamy, slightly ashamed expression, like he’s a bit embarrassed to be existing so loudly. 

I find myself thinking about how kids grow up, how the geeky kid who we thought didn’t have a clue or a future can grow up to be beautiful and successful, and how its possible the mom in this odd couple across from me feels a certain sympathy for her son, because he might be the way she was when she was young.

When I look back, he’s fallen asleep on her shoulder, and she pats his head tenderly.

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Some More

“So what’s your favorite part of the s’more?” I ask as I slowly turn my marshmallow over the gas burner on our stove.

Katie looks at me with the most pitying look I’ve ever seen, then, realizing I’m serious, her face grows stern.

“No such thing,” she says firmly.

“Ah, it’s all one thing,” I say, and she gives look that can only be described as “No doy."

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Better? Or Worse?

When Katie picks her up, the cat instantly goes from a soft, affectionate ball of fur (albeit a starving one who will tell you all about it at the soonest opportunity) to a stiff-legged, humiliated victim of horrendous abuse. From the prison of Katie’s embrace she turns to stare at me balefully.

“Well, at least she’s not actively trying to die,” I say, referring to our first cat, Honey, who liked to hold her breath in rage when people picked her up for snuggles, presumably in order to end her own life and escape the hellscape of existence.

“It’s..., uh..., true,” Katie says, as the cat meows mournfully and twists around until she’s cradled like a baby in Katie’s arms.

Heroism Without the Attitude

The very nice flight attendant who upgraded Katie and me to an exit row is now asking her standard question in a slightly bored tone: “Are you ready, willing, and able to assist in the event of an emergency?”

But when the older lady across the aisle from us doesn’t answer exactly in the affirmative (“I suppose so,” she says in an irritated tone), the flight attendant perks up, and not in happy way.

They go back and forth for a few seconds until the woman finally gives an answer that satisfies our attendant, and then she prepares to go back to the script while the woman mutters under her breath.

“Good,” the attendant says, straightening back up,  “and I can do without the comments."