Monday, December 31, 2018


Katie and I walk to the subway to go see a movie. We’re a little late so we’re walking quickly, but not as quickly as the clacking footsteps that sound like they’re coming up behind us, even though the person is so close to our pace that it almost sounds like they’re in step with Katie.

Finally Katie says, “Walk in a straight line with me,” and I do, which allows the person dogging us to finally pass, and we watch her in satisfied silence as she has to quicken her pace almost to a run to do so.

I mean, it’s not like we were walking too slow.

Sunday, December 30, 2018


There’s a bounce in my step as I go downstairs to the storage space. It’s time to inventory all the pieces we have left after our last market, and despite how boring that might sound, I’m actually looking forward to touching every piece, entering it into the database I created, creating the pivot tables that show what pieces Katie needs to make for our next market, talking to Katie about what I learned - all the work that I can do that helps my wife do her work.

And were I doing it for somebody else, I might find it less interesting, or meaningful, but to do it for us makes it seem... “fun" isn’t the right word, but “nourishing” might be close.

So when I get to the storage locker I spend several disappointed minutes looking blankly at my key ring, where the key to the lock on the door is supposed to be, because the key is currently on my bedside table back in Brooklyn, where I left it, and not here with me, in midtown Manhattan, where it might actually do somebody some goddamn good.

Saturday, December 29, 2018

Paranoid, But Why?

Our landlord installed a new light outside the front door, or maybe he changed the angle of the one that was already there, but now it shines on the curb exactly where I put the garbage and recycling for pickup on Friday nights. For some reason this makes me feel paranoid, like I’m on display to everyone while I’m shuttling our loads of boxes and bags of glass down to the curb.

I’m putting our last load of recycling out for collection when I hear, down the street, the revving of an engine. I look up and there, at the stop light, idling on the empty street, is the garbage truck just waiting for the light to change, so I quickly drop the last bag next to the two piles of broken down boxes and the dead vacuum cleaner and hurry in the front door and upstairs before they arrive.

Friday, December 28, 2018

Taking Care of Business

It’s taken me a while to get going this morning, even after doing my routine of breathing exercises, yoga, and meditation, and I’m feeling pretty unmotivated and blah, to the point that I’m just finishing up my “morning” routine when it turns noon.

Then a text comes in from our landlord - we’ve got boxes downstairs, a shipment of supplies for the business. 

And suddenly, I’m back in the swing: running up and down stairs, hauling boxes, unpacking, stacking containers, throwing things away, my heart singing with purpose and meaning as I work.

It’s almost as if taking it easy isn’t all that easy, after all.

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Minor Hubris

On the way back from picking up our food for dinner, I remember that my roommate John gave me two dollars to buy him a diet coke. I’m mentally preparing myself to go to the bodega across the street, which means waiting for the light, walking past our front door, finding the cokes in the back of the shop, during which time our fries may be getting soggy in the bag, and truly, nobody like soggy fries.

I pass a deli I’d forgotten about on the same side of the street as the one I’m walking on, and without thinking, I turn in, grab a coke for my friend, pay the man, and resume my return trip all in about thirty seconds. 

I realize I’m feeling inordinately proud of myself for my quick thinking and my ability to improvise in the moment, and I feel a little embarrassed for my overinflated ego, but since nobody’s listening in, I decide to forgive myself for my momentary lapse into the sin of pride.

The Remains of the Market

“Well,” says Katie thoughtfully. She’s standing in the quiet Christmas night street while I sit in the cab of the idling truck parked at the curb. “You could just come down here at nine tomorrow morning and sit in the truck until the street cleaner comes by, move the truck and then park again.”

“Or,” she continues after I agree, “the other logical thing to do is just unload the truck tonight."

Monday, December 24, 2018

I Know What You Mean

Walking down University Place to our storage space as the giddiness that comes from finishing a difficult but meaningful task starts to creep in.

I pass in front of an apartment building just as a couple bring their dogs out for a stroll under the waning Christmas Eve moon. One of the dogs immediately begins to bark and whine as soon as he’s over the threshold, It makes me smile.

“I know exactly what you mean,” I murmur to myself as I look up to the moon, but there’s no time to pause and reflect, since there’s so much yet to do.


“I am bringing abundance and wealth to all these booths, every one of them that I enter” I overhear the woman say to her companion as she examines Katie’s sculptures.

“I’ll take that, and give it right back to you,” I say to her over the throngs of people crowding the booth, and the two of us lock eyes with a grin.

“Would you mind if I sing a mantra to Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth and prosperity?” she says, still grinning, and, without thinking, I say yes, even while some of the other customers watch us warily.

I almost instantly regret it as she begins walking around the booth and singing to the butterflies in Sanskrit, but after a few minutes, I feel the energy around us shift, and people are really smiling now, and the woman singing the mantra walks up, still chanting, and hands me a piece to ring up for her.

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Memento Mori III

The child with the skinny head and the grown together eyebrows looks surprisingly disappointed to be surrounded by all of Katie’s butterflies, and I can’t figure out why until he opens his mouth.

“They’re fake,” he says cynically to his little brother.

“They’re real, and they’re dead,” I correct him, “but everything dies, so it’s okay.”

Is it, though?” his mother asks me.

Saturday, December 22, 2018

Asking the Real Questions

“What time is it?” I ask from my spot sprawled on the couch.

Katie looks at her phone. “About one-forty.”

“Want to go to bed?” I ask

Friday, December 21, 2018

Customer Service

As the postal worker takes the last of my packages to the back of the post office and moves to shut the door, I stop her.

“Could you please get me a receipt for these?” I ask, holding the door as her neutral face turns to a scowl.

“You should have told me earlier,” she scolds as she goes to get the portable scanner.

“She’s lovely,” I turn and mouth silently to the customer standing behind me, and then turn back with a smile to take the sullenly proffered receipt.

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Making Jokes At Work

The slices I am making with this box cutter to alter the size of this box are a jagged mess. “No way I could hijack those planes,” I say to no one in particular.

“One A.M., four days before Christmas, and the man I love just made a 9/11 joke,” Katie says, looking up from where she’s making labels for pieces to bring to the booth tomorrow. “Truly I have married my soulmate."

Wednesday, December 19, 2018


“Why are you hungry?” Katie asks the cat, who looks up at her defiantly. The two of them are at a standoff in the door to the kitchen, where the cat was fed not three hours ago.

“We have to take you to the vet,” Katie says, shaking her head. “You are too small to have that much cat food in you,” she continues, while the cat, seemingly insulted, simply walks away with a flick of her tail.

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Why, Though?

“So this woman walks into the booth,” I tell Katie while she finishes a few more pieces for me to take to the booth tomorrow, “and she looks at the sign we have up and asks, ‘Why are they safe for international travel.’”

“And I say to her, ‘Do you mean how are they safe for international travel?’” I continue.

Katie looks up wearily. “I think I get what she means, though,” she says.

Monday, December 17, 2018

Called on Account of Weather

The rain falling on the corrugated metal roof of the booth where we sell Katie’s sculptures sounds like a catastrophe, like constant, drumming noise. I talk to the customers as best I can, but my sensitivity to sound and the need to shout over the din makes it tough to create the calm, welcoming atmosphere I prefer when I’m working.

Finally, about a half-hour before the market closes, when the booth has been empty for a while and the only traffic in the aisles is a river of rainwater, one of the market managers stops by. “You can close if you want,” he says in desultory tone, but by the time he leaves, somebody has already put up a gate and closed the market down.

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Pee Break

“Okay, I’m out,” I say to the woman in the booth across the aisle from us. 

“You’re leaving?” she asks plaintively, then her face brightens as an idea overtakes her. “Can you watch my booth for a second while I go pee?”

“I mean, sure!” I say with a shrug as she dashes out into the night.

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Title of My Autobiography

Our roommate is sitting in one of the few rooms of the apartment that we haven’t filled up with various accoutrements of our business, the kitchen.

“I’m sorry for what we’ve done to the house,” I say, coming in. He looks up mildly.

“More boxes, eh?” he asks, deadpan.

Friday, December 14, 2018

Cheaper on the Margins

I walk east on 69th Street toward York Avenue on a gray, wet day on my way to the hospital for a check up. Steam exhales up into the cold from vents high in the walls of the tall buildings. I think about how all the hospitals and all the self-storage facilities in Manhattan are on the edges of the city, people putting their unwanted “stuff” out away from the center, out where they can forget about it.

When I mention this to Katie later that night, she says, “Sure, but I would argue that there’s hospitals, and storage places, closer in, and people just go to the edges initially because it’s cheaper."

Thursday, December 13, 2018


“Listen,” I say to the security guard at the market. “Those kids I thought shoplifted from my booth? They just put that piece back in a weird place, so if you see them, please don’t call the cops, because they didn’t do anything.”

“Well, the thing is,” he says with a shrug, “even if I tried to get them for something, if you didn’t actually see them do it, they didn’t do it."

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Mildly Odd

I’m trudging up the stairs with groceries in heavy winter boots, and on the second floor I hear, with every step, a single musical note. It continues in time with my steps until I begin to wonder if I’m imagining it, or perhaps I’m hearing some sort of squeak in the stairs that just sounds particularly musical today. So I stop.

Outside, a car horn continues to honk, and I find myself wondering if I was unconsciously walking in time to the honking before I consciously heard it (which is a little odd, but unremarkable), or if it just happened to sync up with my steps randomly (which is a little spooky, but only a little).

Tuesday, December 11, 2018


A clipped fingernail of a crescent moon hangs in a perfectly clear sky over Brooklyn jeweled with planes coming lining up to come home. The indigo of night shades down into lavender into a pale coral at the horizon where the sun set.

I spent many evenings in Arizona where I grew up looking at sunsets. The sky is not as warm here in the east, but high above the buzzing, bustling city, it is the same still, quiet place.

Monday, December 10, 2018


It happens very quickly: the car turns sharply, cutting across the crosswalk and hitting the woman walking there. 

“Jesus fucking christ!” I shout, pulling my headphones off. 

The car knocks her off her feet, and she lands flat on her back, lays there for a moment, and then stands up, saying in a dazed voice, “I just got hit by a car.”

“You should really stay put,” I say, as strongly as possible.

Sunday, December 9, 2018


The drunk idiots dressed in Santa Claus costumes running around midtown seem to have mostly worn themselves out, and as the sun sets, they and their scantily dressed, drunk girlfriends are making their way back to Jersey or Staten Island or wherever else they’re from.

A car passes me, and a Santa hat wearing fool leans out to give me an inebriated “Woo!”

“Woo,” I reply, completely deadpan. His look of utter disappointment gave me a warm glow to fight off the winter chill.

Friday, December 7, 2018

Putting It Down

“Ah, I gotta buy a gift for my sister,” the old man says, looking at Katie’s pieces.

“You know,” he says, after a few moments silence, as ‘Last Christmas’ warbled on a boombox nearby and the Salvation Army ringer tinkled his bell almost (but not quite) in rhythm, “she used to chase me around, yell at me, just a real bitch.”

“You know, it’s tough to forgive stuff, sometimes,” I say, “but at some point I just realized I didn’t want to carry all that around anymore.”

“Yeah,” he says, laughing ruefully, “I’m seventy-nine, and I’m still thinking about stuff from when I was seven!"

The Beagles and The Bunnies Shall Lie Down Together

(I feel like I’ve written about this before, which is sort of the point.)

I’m watching the TV show “A Charlie Brown Christmas”, the opening scene where that wonderful, lilting music is playing and Charlie Brown and Linus are walking through the snow and pause by the wall to chat, and something about the unhurried pace, the ease with silence the show has, just puts me right there, into the child’s mind that watched the show religiously, when Christmas was the most important, the most exciting thing that had ever or would ever occur. It’s a sinking in, not in a passive way, but in an open, receptive, vibrant way that allows me to see every line, every simplistically drawn Christmas tree and snowbank and doghouse, as an icon, and by extension the whole world becomes charged with meaning and portent.

And then Linus says, “Lights, please,” and in a quiet voice recites an old, old myth that suddenly sounds, not just meaningful, but actually possible, and I feel my eyes welling with tears and my heart singing in praise of a universe that actually means something, which is, of course, sort of the point.

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Picking a New Outfit

I pull the sweater out of the dry cleaner bag and throw it on. I’m already a little bit late to go in, so I’m not too concerned about how I look, but a passing glance in the mirror stops me cold.

“Does this sweater make me look old?” I say, walking into where Katie’s making her coffee.

“No,” she says, looking me up and down, “but really, it’s the khakis that make you look old...."

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Trying to Talk to the Natives

The Australians are out in force at the Holiday Market, and I make small talk with a couple of them as I wrap up their purchase by commenting on the cold, and how it’s practically summer Down Under.

“Yeah, it’s probably...,” one of them thinks for a moment, “sixty degrees or so in Melbourne today.”

“Did you just do a Celsius to Fahrenheit conversion in your head?” I ask, laughing. “You are an excellent ambassador for your people."

Monday, December 3, 2018

Move Too Much

“I had to move this morning,” says the woman working the booth across from us, rubbing her eyes. “I don’t even know where I am.”

“You know, I’ve lived in New York for about twenty-two years,” I muse, “and I’ve only moved maybe four times. People move way too much in this town."

Some Not-So-Excellent Qualities

I finish my yoga, and come in to help Katie get ready for her shift. I sit on the bed behind her while she puts on her makeup in the mirror.

“Did you sleep well?” I ask as she turns around to give me a good morning kiss.

“My love, you have many excellent qualities,” she says lovingly, “but last night you were an immovable mountain of snoring, like with roots right down to the center of the earth."

Sunday, December 2, 2018


“What do you do with these?” Katie asks about the little disks of wood littering the sidewalk to the nice man sawing yet another disc off of the base of our Christmas tree.

“You can have them if you want,” he says with a shrug.

“Aren’t they wonderful?” asks a random lady (who is not buying a Christmas tree) walking by, and as she asks she starts picking up the little discs of wood.

And even though they’re free, I find myself resenting this random woman a little, because we bought a Christmas tree from these folks, and she just starts picking up the discs of wood like they’re trash that anybody can have, whereas we actually paid for this trash.

Saturday, December 1, 2018

I Look Safe

“I was watching the news today, the early news,” says Katie, “and they were doing a story about how it might soon be illegal to Airdrop dick picks, and I thought, ‘Oh, my husband will be safe.’ They never do that to me,” she adds.

“Wonder why,” I muse.

“They probably think I look like I’ll rip their eyes out,” she says.