Tuesday, November 24, 2020
Monday, November 23, 2020
Sunday, November 22, 2020
Saturday, November 21, 2020
Friday, November 20, 2020
We’re watching random music videos on YouTube, because it’s that kind of night. HAIM does a cover of Fleetwood Mac’s “Oh Well,” there’s a mashup up of thirty or so songs from the year 1979 strung together in a single video by a group called The Hood Internet. Then, I see a video for Prince doing a live cover of Led Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love” and I immediately click.
“I would have bet every dollar I had that you wouldn’t be able to pass that video without watching it,” Katie says.
Thursday, November 19, 2020
A restless night with what feels like a pulled hamstring leads to me lying in bed for longer than usual after I awaken.
I’m thumbing through my phone when Katie comes in with a thoughtful look on her face. “Let me see your knees,” she says.
I obligingly throw off the covers and she examines my legs for a minute before she points at my left knee, pronouncing, “No, that ones definitely bigger."
Tuesday, November 17, 2020
Monday, November 16, 2020
Sunday, November 15, 2020
Saturday, November 14, 2020
“It was mid-December, I was on the Upper West Side in a cafe with a women I thought I was in love with,” I tell my customer. "It was about midnight, and it started to snow, those huge, slow flakes coming down, and I looked out the window into the night and just thought, ‘I love New York.’”
“It’s funny you should say that,” she replies, her eyes shining. “Because I met a guy I thought I loved when I first moved here, and we did all the New York-y things you do, and I thought ‘Ooooh, I’m falling in love with him,’ but really, I realized I was falling in love with the city!"
Friday, November 13, 2020
Wednesday, November 11, 2020
Tuesday, November 10, 2020
Monday, November 9, 2020
“The receipt you have there for Customer Owned Goods is all you need to reclaim your shoes after they’ve been stretched,” I tell her.
“Could you please bring me the original receipt anyway?” she asks apologetically.
After I’ve fetched it and given it to her, I brush aside her apologies, saying, “I appreciate people who plan ahead and like to have contingency plans, like my wife. I sometimes say that she likes to wear belt and suspenders."
Sunday, November 8, 2020
I’m standing watching the escalator for customers when my friend Ben taps me on the shoulder. He’s holding up his phone, screen towards me, and it reads “Biden: 279,” as he says, “It’s over.”
My knees get kinda week and I lean over, palms down on the table, tears in my eyes. He kindly pats me on the back and walks away.
Saturday, November 7, 2020
The guy who has been across the street from our apartment yelling incoherently most of the night has disappeared by the time I take the garbage down to the curb for pickup. The night is cool but not cold, and I pause on the top step in front of my building while a couple passes walking their dog, who sniffs the pile of trash with evident interest before being pulled away.
Later, the shouting man has returned, and Katie and I turn off the light in our front room overlooking the street to watch him. Though his shouting seems aggressive, and I certain wouldn’t like to meet him in his current state, he doesn’t seem to be harming anyone, so we stand in the window while he stalks up and down the sidewalk, yelling aggrievedly about handcuffs and death.
Friday, November 6, 2020
Thursday, November 5, 2020
While the businesses surrounding the winter market are boarding up in an excess of caution as we count votes in the presidential election, another vendor comes up to ask about whether we feel safe leaving our inventory in the booth.
“I’m sure it will be fine,” I tell her. “There won’t be, like, real unrest unless Trump tries to steal the election, plus, not that I like cops, but there are plenty of police around.”
She looks confused, and I worry I may have overstepped, so I add, “You know, there are just a lot of cops around, so people probably won’t try anything."
Wednesday, November 4, 2020
Tuesday, November 3, 2020
What started as “well I might be a little late to work” has rapidly become “oh I am definitely going to be very late,” because here we are, all of us on this Q train, stopped on the Manhattan Bridge.
I am sitting at the very front of the train, in the seat right next to the conductor’s cabin, where a sign on the door admonishes me to “Keep your distance,” though I have no idea where I would go, when I hear, from inside the cabin, a loud disturbance.
Then the door to the conductor’s cabin opens and out of it, like a clown car, come numerous hard-hatted, safety-vested track workers, way more that should fit into such a small space, all carrying various pieces of equipment and joking with one another in a sort of relieved way about how they’re glad that’s over.
Finally, the last one comes out and says to the others, “Okay, ready to do it again?"
Sunday, November 1, 2020
My friend at work stops in the middle of our conversation, points at the ground, and says, matter-of-factly, “Stinkbug.”
Thus ensues a bit of running around which culminates in me carrying said stink bug, who is now very confused, in a plastic cup up the elevator and out the front door of the store to the curb, where he is dumped unceremoniously in the rain.
There is some discussion on my return to the shoe floor as to whether we really saved him, per se, but we all finally agree that, though he’ll probably die outside, at least he’ll die in his “natural” habitat.
When I relate this story to Katie later that night, she muses, “You should have compared it to Disneyworld."
Wednesday, October 28, 2020
We’re almost at the pizza place when we see the two older people, a man and a woman, bidding each other farewell on the sidewalk.
“Well, let’s hope it’s not so long until next time,” he says, giving her a gentle fist bump.
“Oh, you’re gonna make me cry,” she replies, hand to her chest.
“Hey, that’s why I had the sambuca with the coffee beans - it was a special occasion,” he says.
Tuesday, October 27, 2020
I drop off the truck at U-Haul after an exhausting day, only to realize that I left home without a mask.
It’s early Tuesday evening in Brooklyn, so the streets aren’t too too filled, but I find myself checking a full block ahead to see if anyone is approaching, walking out into the street to give folks plenty of space, and just generally feeling deeply uncomfortable.
I don’t know how people do it, walking around with their whole face hanging out like its normal. When I finally got home I was so relieved.
Loading the truck full of Katie’s art and displays takes several trips, and on one of them I come down to find a gentleman parking his bike in front of our apartment building. He takes off his helmet to reveal curly brown hair and a long face, partially concealed behind a mask.
He pulls a paper bag out of his backpack, then leans down and unties a garbage bag sitting on the curb, which, it turns out, is full of what appear to be day-old bagels from the bagel shop next door.
He carefully goes through the bag as I continue to load the truck, pulling out ones he likes the look of and throwing the rest back in, until his paper bag is full, and he and I do not speak the entire time, even though I pass him more than once, because I figure he’s doing nothing wrong, so why make a fuss?
Monday, October 26, 2020
We step out of the apartment into the overcast fall day, Katie in her new, brightly hued sweater dress and leather jacket and me in a hooded t-shirt and army green button down, fresh-faced and ready to go vote and the first thing I hear is two young women eating under the tent for the bagel place next door, discussing politics.
“Like, don’t act like you’re all virtuous just because you’re voting and I’m not...,” one says to the other in this nasal, aggrieved tone before I pass out of earshot.
“Man, I hated everything about that conversation,” I tell Katie.
“Oh yeah, even though I couldn’t hear what they said,” she agrees.
Saturday, October 24, 2020
He stands up after finishing his lunch to go back to work. At other tables in the lunch room, people are chatting, watching videos on their phones, eating, one guy is clearly asleep, with his head under his arm to shade his eyes from the fluorescent lights.
As he leaves, he shoots his trash into the garbage can with an unfancy fade away shot, nothing but net, no one saw but me. “Kobe,” he says softly to himself, and heads out with a small smile.
Friday, October 23, 2020
Thursday, October 22, 2020
“It reminds me of a line from the Gospel of Thomas,” I tell the woman I am helping find shoes (after a long discussion of her work as a therapist and counselor) as she takes off the too tight Ugg slippers. “‘If you bring forth what is within in, what you bring forth will save you, but if you do not bring forth what is within you, what you do not bring forth will destroy you.’”
This seems to excite the psychologist side of her. “I would add to that,” she says, “that if you bring forth and name what is within you, it will save you."
Monday, October 19, 2020
Milo and his friend look to be about ten or eleven, and certainly act like it, with each daring the other to jump into the murky water at Dog Beach while the park slowly winds down toward the end of a cool fall Sunday afternoon.
Finally they hit upon a plan to upend a sizable stump that people have been using as a seat. Working together, they heave it up and over and into the pond with a sad, heavy splash.
Not content with simply spoiling a good place to sit, they eagerly grab a long branch and push it out further into the water, where it floats uselessly, and then, finished with their task, they stand on the rocks overlooking the pond until Milo says, “I dare you to take off your pants."
Sunday, October 18, 2020
“Do you guys want some water while you’re waiting?” I ask the mother/daughter duo to whom I’m currently selling shoes, before I run into the stockroom in another attempt to find them what they're looking for.
“I don’t think you have anything strong enough for me,” the mother replies jokingly.
“Well, unless you’re looking for heroin, I think we can oblige,” I say, indicating the actual bar with booze we have behind her in the middle of the shoe floor, and her face goes stony.
There’s a moment, right after you make a joke that may have landed wrong, where the world seems to hold its breath, but the daughter must have seen the bar on the way in, even though the mother clearly hadn’t, and she laughingly points it out to her, while relief floods through my body.
Saturday, October 17, 2020
Shoes left after a customer has concluded the transaction (either by buying something or not) are traditionally called “wood,” and it’s part of the job of the salesman to clean up their wood to keep the sales floor tidy.
This pile of wood is something else, though: three different sizes of three different shoes, plus a couple random shoes for good measure, strewn about the floor surrounded by piles of the paper and cardboard and plastic bags that are used to pack the shoes.
I’ve seen this sort of thing before - the desperate attempts to engage the customer who doesn’t know exactly what she wants, or even what size, only that she doesn’t want whatever it is you brought out for her, but maybe if you bring out one more thing, she’ll finally decide....
As I pass the guy to whom the wood belongs, he laments, “Man, I’m not making any money today."
Thursday, October 15, 2020
“I’m not going to vote,” my customer says. I manage to hold my tongue as she continues in an aggrieved tone, “Trump supporters don’t seem to care when I say that, but people who oppose him get really nasty with me."
I take a deep breath as I loosen the laces on the boot she’s about to try on. “They don’t get mad at you because silence favors the oppressor,” I finally say, as casually as I can.
Tuesday, October 13, 2020
Yeah, that’s a good idea, I think as I sit down for lunch. I should totally do that.
I watch a few minutes of a show on my phone, and then realize that I do not remember the thing that I thought I should do.
I stare at the paused image on my screen, wracking my brain for it, but nothing comes to mind, and eventually I just give up and unpause the show.
Monday, October 12, 2020
The boots that I suggested Katie purchase last year specifically because they were waterproof seem to be no match for today’s rain.
“Yeah, there are wet spots on my socks,” she says looking down at her soaked toes as we enter the grocery store.
“Man, I feel like I really let you down,” I say.
“Don’t make this about you,” she replies mildly.
The mini Australian Shepherd startles as I approach, then proceeds to make this huffing noise that is, almost, but not quite a bark.
“We’re trying to socialize him again,” his owner says apologetically as I kneel with my knuckles held loosely toward the dog. “He was fine before lockdown, but he seems to have forgotten how to be around people.”
“Yeah, that seems to be going around,” I say, as the dog huffs again.
Sunday, October 11, 2020
“We moved a piece of furniture, and there were all these dust bunnies underneath it,” my father tells me on our phone call. “So we watched the robot vacuum cleaner go past it once, twice. On the third time, it got it.”
“This is what passes for entertainment in lockdown, right?” I reply.
Saturday, October 10, 2020
Being outside for so many hours yesterday (while wearing a mask, and with my hair falling over one side of my face) has left me with a rather peculiar sunburn, covering most of the left side of my face down my cheek to a line right above my nose, and leaving the right side of my face relatively unaffiliated.
Today, I wore a new pair of shoes that matched nicely with my pale-pink pants and a crisp white button-down shirt.
“Oh, I like those pants,” says my friend Ben. “They go so well with your face!"
Friday, October 9, 2020
The sky is what I like to call “anime blue”: a clear, intense, friendly blue, characteristic of a warm spring or early fall, that seems to promise a bit of adventure and fun. I’m standing on an asphalt playground at a school on the Lower East Side, helping fit kids for shoes that the company I’m working for is giving away.
“So what’s your favorite subject?” I ask the boy sitting in front of me while I unbox a new pair of sneakers.
He looks very serious under his mask, thinks for a moment and then says, “I think I like math best."
Wednesday, October 7, 2020
Monday, October 5, 2020
The thin black woman with the young doberman pinscher and the enormous pit bull picks up the waterlogged branch and throws it into the water yet again. The doberman, all giant paws and gangly legs, splashes awkwardly into the water to retrieve it while the pit hangs back on the shore.
A young and impetuous yellow lab named, awkwardly, “Jeff” tries to horn in on the stick action in a tug-of-war when the doberman comes out of the water, and then, when that doesn’t work, tries to hump both other dogs.
The woman, seeing that Jeff’s owner (a young, diffident man in Birkenstocks and socks at a pond no less) is unable or unwilling to pull him off of her dogs, very calmly walks over, hauls Jeff up in the air by the collar, and says, gently admonishing, “Now, no humping."
Saturday, October 3, 2020
Thursday, October 1, 2020
The bike ride to my friend’s house, one of the first rides I’ve taken in months, is easy and smooth up the coast of Brooklyn into Greenpoint. I keep having to put my ego in check to stop killing myself to try and pass people, and to stop getting mad when people pass me.
After I park my bike, we go for a walk, back down the way I just came, and we pause to admire the peculiar view this part of Brooklyn affords us, with the Chrysler Building and the Empire State and all the other icons of the city jostling up against one another.
“You’re used to Manhattan being spread out along the horizon, but here, it’s like it’s all compressed into a flattened, weird perspective,” I observe, and my friend wisely let’s this remark pass without comment.
Wednesday, September 30, 2020
Two old white men walk on to a stage. There’s a kiddie pool filled with shit between them, and one of the men begins to splash around in it, flinging handfuls of the stinking, runny stuff at the audience, at the other man, at the curtains and walls. The other man does his best not to get hit, but he’s so used to the smell that he doesn’t try that hard to get out of it.
I watch this on TV until it ends, and afterwards, various people talk about what a mess it was; outside, a short squall rattles the windows and pounds ringing raindrops onto the metal hull of the air conditioner before subsiding back into the night.
Tuesday, September 29, 2020
I found a pair of Timberland boots on the street several years ago - old and a bit worse for wear, but serviceable.
A campfire during a recent camping trip melted the soles right off of them, and so, after many years of good use, I put them out on the stoop for the tide of material goods that routinely takes boxes of books and other objects off our hands to carry them away.
Three days later, they are still there.
“Nobody wants your boots, Scott,” Katie says with finality as we come home from the grocery store to find them, still perched where I left them.
Sunday, September 27, 2020
The thin old woman is bent beneath an enormous backpack half the size of her body as she gets on the train. She peers nearsightedly at the empty seats peeking out between socially-distancing riders but seems averse to sitting so close to others.
When I see that she doesn’t have a place to sit, I count to five silently to see if anyone will give her a seat, and when no seat seems forthcoming, I stand and, gesturing, offer her mine.
She looks at where I was sitting, then back at me, and declines with a dismissive gesture before going to sit between a woman and two teenagers, while I shrug and return to my seat.
Saturday, September 26, 2020
Friday, September 25, 2020
The light fades from the sky above the park, but we can still make out a haze of mosquitoes over what they call “Dog Beach.” The small doggy swimming hole, sectioned off from the larger pond by a low chain-link fence, is mostly empty except for what looks like a black-and-white pitbull-and-something mix who stands motionless in the water, staring at nothing.
He stays like that, ears forward, eyes fixed, for a few minutes until a ripple in the water hooks his attention and he quickly turns, making this new patch of pond the focus.
“Turtles,” a woman holding a leash explains, and we watch him for a while until a family, sans masks and loudly speaking Russian, invades the beach to take pictures, and we head out.
Saturday, September 5, 2020
“Does it smell like... perfume to you guys?” our downstairs neighbor asks as we meet downstairs to put the trash on the curb.
I inhale deeply. “Yeah, sorta?”
“I think [our landlord] sprayed deodorant down here to cover the smell of the garbage,” she says ruefully.
Thursday, September 3, 2020
The customer I sold a pair designer rainboots to last week texts me a video of her receiving them and unboxing. There’s the lifting of the lid and rustling of tissue paper, and then she squeals in delight as the well-made, very attractively designed boots are revealed.
I watch it three times in a row and then text her back. “Your sounds of delight truly made my day,” I write.
Wednesday, September 2, 2020
Monday, August 31, 2020
It’s a good day for it, if you have to stand out side a clinic to wait for a doctor’s assistant to shove a cotton swab up your nose. It’s overcast, not too hot, a light breeze blowing, and everybody seems content to stand in line six feet apart hugging the building while the impenetrable wall of cars roar down Flatbush a few yards away.
A guy rides his bike up the sidewalk, giving the line a wide berth, and normally I find such flouting of the laws and rules of the road despicable, but after a moment I shrug. If you have to ride down Flatbush on a bike (you don’t, of course, and you shouldn’t, but if you have to) I guess I’d rather you not die in the horrific traffic than obey the rules and put yourself in danger.
Saturday, August 29, 2020
She’s tried on seven pairs of Nikes already, and she doesn’t like any of them. “I just hate what covid has done,” she complains as I pull out pair number eight. “I had a membership at gyms, at Pinnacle Club, at Equinox, I had a pool I swam at, all gone.”
I sigh inaudibly beneath my mask as she continues, “I just can’t believe what’s happened to me!”
“What’s happened to you,” I say without inflection, looking her dead in the eye.
Friday, August 28, 2020
“So what are you doing for your bachelor party?” I ask my work friend.
“Well, first we were going to Vegas,” he says. “Then we were thinking maybe Chicago, but now it’s like, maybe we’ll just have some beers on somebody’s back porch?”
“That sums up 2020 pretty well,” I say, nodding.
Thursday, August 27, 2020
She pulls down her mask to reveal a face better concealed and points her phone out the train window at the bridge passing south of us. Lights like jewels, like flecks of burning magnesium, evenly space the spans, and I turn up my headphones and close my eyes.
Tuesday, August 25, 2020
Monday, August 24, 2020
Saturday, August 22, 2020
The sheeting rain that drove everyone off the park lawn and under the shelter of these trees shows no sign of abating. Katie, while still keeping up her end of our conversation, continues to nonchalantly swing her fists back and forth around her in an effort to keep the non-mask-wearing park-goers at literal arms length.
Suddenly, from behind us around a bend in the path, comes a sound of several dozen people all screaming with dismay. We all look around in consternation, but we can’t determine the source of their trouble, until we hear the sound of the rain rise from a downpour to a deluge, and the wind begins to thrash the trees with serious intent, and even our temporary shelter isn’t enough to keep us from getting wet.
A young guy on the train, skinny, pale scalp shining through his buzzcut hair, scratches at his acned cheek while staring moodily out the window at the lights flashing by outside. My initial paranoid rage at his lack of mask throbs like a supernova in my skull for a brief moment, then subsides into the usual resigned disgust.
But then, unexpectedly, from somewhere deep in my chest, a surprising sense of something like pity wells up. All us poor, stupid children, trying not to get sick, some of us retreating into safe routines, others pretending that if we don't acknowledge the danger it won't get us, some of us making dangerous, foolish decisions because we're scared, others trying not to feel the overwhelming burden of acting in the best interest of others when we don't even know how to do that for ourselves, hating others or ashamed of them or just trying to get by and yes I understand but I still get up and move down the car to get away from the maskless idiot.
Friday, August 21, 2020
The light changes, and I stand at the corner, waiting for opposing traffic to cross. The driver in the car doesn't look at me, likely is only aware of me in a peripheral way, and her face is blank, expressionless but for a mask of what I can only assume is boredom.
None of this surprises me, or offends me, but it does get me thinking about how people outside the car only sort of exist when you're driving. And really, the converse is true, too: when you're walking, there's not really people in the cars - they're not really driven, as much as they're mechanical creatures that seem to move of their own volition.
Thursday, August 20, 2020
"One of the girls in that group was a bitch," my co-worker says after my customer has left.
"Oh yeah?" I say in my most neutral tone.
"Yeah, I was working with her, not the one you worked with, and we didn't have her size, but when I apologized she was like, 'I wasn't going to buy it from you anyways, I just wanted to try it on and then I was going to buy it online.' So I just walked away from them and didn't come back."
Wednesday, August 19, 2020
“I love helping people find shoes for their wedding, and I take my responsibility very seriously,” I tell her as she goes to sit back down.
“I suppose it would be pretty satisfying,” she says, unbuckling the shoe that she will end up taking home with her to wear when she gets married next month.
“I mean, I’m part of somebody’s memories forever, even if they don’t remember me,” I continue over her laughter, and I strike a pose and raise my voice a little. “I’m in your wedding,” I sing, dancing.
Monday, August 17, 2020
We stood on the path where it passed over the deep gully and listened to the waterfall while leaves fell lazily into the stream.
The father-and-son duo we passed on our way into this part of the park caught up with us, and we scooted to one side so the little boy could see over the big rocks and down to the water below.
The father took his son’s picture with the waterfall in the background, and told him to “look up, look up,” so he would be facing the camera.
Katie offered to take their picture together, but he declined, and they got back on their little scooter and continued up the path, while we stayed behind, and Katie found a spider web spun between two rocks, glistening in the sun.
(editors note: “Wood” in this usage refers to the extra shoes shown to a customer remaining after the customer has chosen which shoe(s) she will purchase, and “running” refers to the act of returning said “wood" to their respective places in the stock room)
“Hey,” I tell my manager, “I’m finished, just need to run my wood.”
“Cool, just come her, lemee ask you,” he says seriously, motioning me over, “uh, how much wood would a woodchuck run if a woodchuck could run wood?”
Without a word, I turn and walk away from him in feigned disgust, while he calls after me, “But I had you going for a second, right?"
Sunday, August 16, 2020
Some of the plants in New York City that grow during the summer resemble prehistoric throwbacks: enormous, elephantine leaves, thick, meaty stems, and brazen, flamboyant flowers that seem like they’d be more at home in a Cretaceous-era jungle than in a concrete jungle.
We pass a stand of huge, reddish plants on our block that have grown so large that they’ve fallen beneath their own weight, and I remark on them to Katie.
“It’s because [our dead dog] Coco wasn’t here to take care of them,” Katie observes. “She wasn’t around to sniff them and chew on them and pee on them to keep them small enough to not fall over."
Saturday, August 15, 2020
I’m so annoyed to see the woman who wasn’t wearing a mask get off the train at the same stop as me that I mutter, “Where’s your mask you stupid whore?” under my breath as I’m going up the stairs behind her.
Except that the loudness of the music in my headphones, combined with the lateness of the hour after a long day at work and a mask over my mouth that makes me a bit careless with my inside-vs.-outside-voice distinction may have caused me to say that louder than I intended it, as she clearly startles, looks back at me fearfully, and increases her pace.
Now, I feel bad about her being afraid, of course, knowing that she’s scared because I used the wrong word to describe her - i.e., I should have called her an asshole. I don’t want her to feel bad because she’s worried that some jerk is going to sexually assault her - I want her to feel bad because she’s an inconsiderate, selfish, possibly murderous jerk.
Thursday, August 13, 2020
“Well, they don’t have vanilla chocolate chip ice cream, so I’ll just have to put this,” I hold up the bag of chocolate chips, “into this,” indicating a tub of vanilla ice cream.
I grab the ice cream and we pass the other freezers where they keep the fancy ice cream, Ben & Jerry’s, Van Leeuwen, some kind of frozen thing made with coconut milk or something, and there is a guy in freezer. The door is open, and this otherwise normal looking guy is climbing up the shelves to reach something in the back on the top shelf, his body wedged entirely up in the Haagen-Daz ice cream bars and jars of artisanal gelato.
“Sure you don’t want to check the rest of the ice creams, just in case?” Katie asks me sarcastically.
Wednesday, August 12, 2020
We’re waiting in the subway station for the guy who’s going to buy a set of shelves we don’t need anymore.
We took it apart (thanks IKEA!), loaded up the heavy glass shelves and the metal bits on a dolly, wheeled it down to the subway station (after confirming and re-confirming over the past hour what line he was taking down from the Bronx), even went so far as to bump the dolly down the subway station stairs one at a time so that he wouldn’t have to haul it down himself, and arrived at the station right at 1:00, like we agreed.
Then Katie gets a text.
“He says, ‘Leaving the house now,’” she says, looking up from her phone.
“You and I, we have the same,” she says, pointing at her eyebrow. She's indicating the way that one of her eyebrows grew so that it appeared as if she were arching it in disbelief, and how I have the same.
“People used to tell me to pluck it or comb it down, but I like it,” I reply.
“Well, during pandemic I just sort of...,” she waves her hands in the universally accepted gesture for *gives up*.
Monday, August 10, 2020
Sunday, August 9, 2020
“What do you mean ‘for my safety’?” the older woman with the Russian accent says when I ask her, yet again, to please put her mask back on while we’re finding her shoes.
“Well, I don’t want you to get sick,” I explain.
“Why would I get sick?” she asks.
“Ma’am,” I say after a few seconds of boggling silence, “that is a loaded question."
Saturday, August 8, 2020
Thursday, August 6, 2020
“You know, today is the anniversary of bombing Hiroshima,” I tell Katie over the dulcet tones of the 80s light jazz we inadvertently asked our smart speaker to play during dinner.
“And,” Katie adds, “it’s the date of the first execution by electrocution.”
“Kinda weird talking about this stuff with this playing,” I say, indicating the music.
“No, it scans."
Wednesday, August 5, 2020
Tuesday, August 4, 2020
Monday, August 3, 2020
Sunday, August 2, 2020
Saturday, August 1, 2020
Friday, July 31, 2020
Wednesday, July 22, 2020
Monday, July 20, 2020
Saturday, July 18, 2020
Thursday, July 16, 2020
Tuesday, July 14, 2020
Monday, July 13, 2020
Sunday, July 12, 2020
Wednesday, July 8, 2020
Tuesday, July 7, 2020
Monday, July 6, 2020
Friday, July 3, 2020
Thursday, July 2, 2020
Wednesday, July 1, 2020
Tuesday, June 30, 2020
Sunday, June 28, 2020
Friday, June 26, 2020
Thursday, June 25, 2020
Wednesday, June 24, 2020
Monday, June 22, 2020
Sunday, June 21, 2020
Saturday, June 20, 2020
Friday, June 19, 2020
Thursday, June 18, 2020
Wednesday, June 17, 2020
Tuesday, June 16, 2020
Monday, June 15, 2020
Sunday, June 14, 2020
Friday, June 12, 2020
Thursday, June 11, 2020
Tuesday, June 9, 2020
After I've calmed down a bit and we've traveled a few blocks, I look up from my book to notice we've stopped by the side of the road, and I realize that I was in such a hurry to get on that I can't remember which bus I actually got on.
When I get up to ask, though, the bus driver cuts me off, explaining, "I'm way ahead of schedule, so I'll have to stop here for a few minutes."
"That's fine, I just wanted to make sure I got on the right bus," I tell her
Monday, June 8, 2020
Even the sight of every person wearing a mask is welcome, and it occurs to me that, if that becomes "normal" I will be okay with it. It practically seems normal now.
"When you pick up a bottle, to you ever get the urge to just smash it?" I ask Katie as I place it back on the bar cart.
"I have to fight off the urge to break a bottle every time I pick one up," she replies with an intense grin.
Sunday, June 7, 2020
It's Saturday, the traditional Jewish day of rest when no work should be done, so I ask Katie, "Do you think it's possible for work to become play, or for play to become work?"
We go back and forth about it for awhile, but end up speculating whether or not the women watching the kids are considered under the law to be "working" even though they very clearly are.
Saturday, June 6, 2020
Friday, June 5, 2020
I coast down the other side waiting for Katie to catch up. "I am a ghost, because I just died going up that hill," she informs me as she rides up.
Thursday, June 4, 2020
"No picture will do you justice," Katie says, even as she attempts to take a picture.
Monday, June 1, 2020
"I've been trying to be more assertive lately, not avoid conflict, say what I mean. That may be why," I tell her.
"You should go back to the other way," she says simply, taking a bite of her ice cream bar, and we both start laughing.
Sunday, May 31, 2020
Friday, May 29, 2020
"You're like the raccoon of entertainment consumption," I say, kissing her on the forehead as she nods happily.
Wednesday, May 27, 2020
Tuesday, May 26, 2020
"Did you get enough treats, like did you want ice cream?" she asks kindly.
"I had ice cream, thank you, because that's how I got chocolate on my shirt," I explain.
"Of course you did," she says, laughing.
After she's fed, I stumble to the bathroom and stand on the scale pondering my dreams. I had dreamed I was the personal assistant to a mutual friend of ours, and she had been dripping with diamonds and rubies that her husband had bought her, and my heart had sank at the thought of trying to be an assistant again when I was so desperately unsuited for the role after being out of an office for over a year and being, at this point, effectively feral.
Monday, May 25, 2020
"It's from Robin Hood," he replies.
"I thought it was a seventies song, and all I could think of was 'ooh-da-lally-ooh-da-lally' so I thought I was wrong...," I say.
"You're bringing the whole apartment down, Scott - get your head in the game!" Katie calls from another room.
Sunday, May 24, 2020
Katie cheerfully lists off a number of institutions (like the Met and others) that are working towards reopening, before adding pragmatically, "But, you know, New York will be last, since we have the most people."
"And we had the most people die," I add thoughtlessly.
"Oh, I don't think that's helpful," Katie says.
Saturday, May 23, 2020
When we got home, Katie looked at her phone. "The Citizen app says there was a fight at the intersection by your work just now," she tells me.
Friday, May 22, 2020
Thursday, May 21, 2020
Wednesday, May 20, 2020
But when I get downstairs, it's actually even more blustery than I anticipated, and I end up wrapping up in a blanket against the wind, which honestly doesn't really help much, as the wind sneaks cold fingers in the gaps to chill me.
Rather than go upstairs, maybe grab a jacket, or just abandon the whole thing as a bad idea, I stubbornly stay and finish reading my chapter, because I came down her to read, and by god I will read, dammit.
Tuesday, May 19, 2020
It's almost enough to make me forget what's going on, why no one is within six feet of us, in one of the most crowded cities in the world.
Katie says something, but her voice is muffled by her mask, and I ask her to repeat herself.
Sunday, May 17, 2020
“I think so. This is the sort of wholesome content I’m here for,” I reply.
“Well, I’m over here making a Theodore Kaczynski avatar for Facebook, so just keep holding up your end of...,” she gestures to the two of us, “...this."
But the unease mixed with a little bit of discouragement I woke with this morning still hasn't left me, and constantly having to monitor the people around me, how close they are, whether they're wearing masks or not, isn't helping, so I walk in silence for a couple blocks.
"Is there anything you want to talk about or...?" Katie asks helpfully.
"I'm still kind of sad and anxious right now, and I'm trying not to make it anybody else's problem," I tell her.
Saturday, May 16, 2020
A bird sits on a branch high above me, his tail feathers hanging over my chair.
"Hey, don't poop on me, or we're gonna have a problem," I call up to the bird, and he obligingly turns so his tail feathers are facing the other way, but I'm not sure what I would have done if he had decided to poop.
Thursday, May 14, 2020
A glance at the clock tells me she's right, and I fetch the can and spend a few precious seconds mashing the can-shaped wad of processed meat into something slightly less unnatural while she circles me, now in full voice, all signs of her previous ailment vanished, yowling impatiently.
"I try to make things nice for you," I explain, and she angrily meows again.
Wednesday, May 13, 2020
But instead of waiting in line, people keep walking in to the post office, to the point where it starts looking like a clown car in reverse - like, I know how small that place is, and you all do not fit.
Finally Katie comes out, her expression difficult to read beneath her mask, and as we walk home she proclaims, "It is a nice day - why couldn't all those people wait outside in the sunshine?"
Tuesday, May 12, 2020
Sunday, May 10, 2020
Katie opens her eyes part way to look at me and reaches out a hand from where she's been napping on the bed. "You're speaking in declarative sentences," she says sleepily. "I can't argue with you when you do that."
Saturday, May 9, 2020
The process of "feeding" a sourdough starter involves adding flour and water to a spongy mass of yeast and dough, and at a certain point you start doing this process twice a day.
When she feeds it in the morning, there's a little excess dough that she turns into a savory little fried pancake, and usually she gives it to me, as a treat.
Friday, May 8, 2020
"No that was Styx, and they're American, but I can understand why you'd think that. My friends and I would have discussions about which American prog band was the best: Kansas or Styx, and of course you have to say Kansas, although Styx has some really good tunes, too, but as far as musicianship goes...."
"Look at you, having conversations with ghosts," she says, going back to getting ready for bed.
Thursday, May 7, 2020
About a third of the way through, Katie says, "You get scared and you start to talk a lot."
I sort of half-heartedly attempt to defend my honor.
"It's okay," she says, "I just wanted to know that you have a tell."
Wednesday, May 6, 2020
Tuesday, May 5, 2020
Katie politely but firmly knocks on the glass, and the guy hurriedly stands, pulls his mask over his mouth, and retreats to the curb.
"Sorry," he calls out as we exit.
"It's okay," I say, and Katie agrees, adding, "Have a nice day!"
Monday, May 4, 2020
I get through the song, but it's not what I want, so I leave it and go sit on the couch with Katie, and then we go clap and yell out the window until we're hoarse to tell the people who are still working we love them, and that makes me feel better.
Sunday, May 3, 2020
"He always makes them from scratch," Katie answers.
"Stupid," he says, miming slapping me across the face. I obligingly snap my head in the correct direction, indicating that I have been struck because I made delicious cookies.
Saturday, May 2, 2020
"That guy's doing it wrong," Katie says loudly, pointing at a man with his mask dangling around his neck. He furtively pulls it up over his mouth and nose and doesn't make eye contact as we continue on our way.
Friday, May 1, 2020
"Are you crabby about someone or something in particular?" she asks calmly. When we've established that it's just sort of free-floating, she muses, "Well, you haven't been outside in like, three days, so...."
Thursday, April 30, 2020
Wednesday, April 29, 2020
Tuesday, April 28, 2020
"Wasn't it gorgeous yesterday, and it rained the day before that, and today?" I ask.
"But didn't you say later, after we came in, 'I'm so glad we went out when we did?'" she replies. "Or was that this morning?"
Monday, April 27, 2020
Sunday, April 26, 2020
Katie's been doing this thing where she very loudly remarks on people not wearing masks in public, hoping she might shame them into doing the right thing, and most of them ignore her or furtively slip their masks back on, but this guy didn't even seem to hear her.
So when we were coming back after a good half-an-hour and saw him still standing there, and he had yet to have moved, I remarked uneasily, "What is this guy's deal?"
Katie saw him, said, "Cross the street?" and we continued our walk on the other side of the road.
Saturday, April 25, 2020
Katie smiles and says, "Thank you for a nice day." Then, more thoughtfully, "What happened today?"
Friday, April 24, 2020
I like crushing them, so I put one down and stomp on it with my bare feet.
The little three legged support in the box that keeps the lid from hitting the pizza pierces the lid and only manages to avoid puncturing my foot because my feet are tough from not wearing shoes for the past month and a half.
When I show Katie the bruise on the bottom of my foot, she says sympathetically, "The tiny tables are the worst!"
Thursday, April 23, 2020
Wednesday, April 22, 2020
There's no transition between raining and not-raining - it's dry, and then the sky just opens up and dumps while the trees bow their heads in gratitude to the weight of the water.
A dove flutters down from the wall into a backyard behind our apartment building, seeking shelter from the deluge. He lands on a thin sapling branch and struggles to keep his wavering perch with desperate shakes of his tail feathers, as he's buffeted by wind pelted by huge, heavy raindrops.
Tuesday, April 21, 2020
I walk up the block to the bodega formerly known as "Super Ace," but they seem to be out too. The aisle with the cleaning supplies has the same lightly bombed look as the one at the supermarket - it's not that it's in complete disarray, but the giant chunks of empty space on once full shelves is somehow more disconcerting than if it were a mess, like a bunch of chipped teeth in a mouth of otherwise perfect pearly whites.
I grab a couple of things the grocery didn't have (hot sauce, hand soap) and when I get to the checkout, the woman behind the counter is wearing her mask hanging off of one ear, doing neither of us any good whatsoever, but I just want to go home, so I don't make a big deal about it.
Monday, April 20, 2020
Sunday, April 19, 2020
After I'm done, the bathroom is humid and cold and clean smelling, with clothes hanging from the shower curtain rod and from every available hook. I look in the mirror above the sink at my uncut hair, and smile ruefully.
Saturday, April 18, 2020
Friday, April 17, 2020
Thursday, April 16, 2020
The first one is always tricky, because, unless you’re using one of those fancy electric skillets where you can set the temperature, you’re always just kinda guessing as to the heat, but I must have been guessing well today, because the first one, and all the subsequent ones (full of melty cheddar and scallions, served with bacon and sour cream), came out perfect.
“Seems the more I do something, the better I get at it,” I say to Katie, as if this is somehow unusual.
“Sounds like the pattern of your life,” she replies, kindly.