Saturday, February 22, 2020


The woman across from me on the train sits hunched over the scratch-off lottery ticket, carefully picking and choosing which spaces to uncover.

The card has been designed to tap into the ancient part of our brain that loves to scrabble at the earth to reveal buried food, the part of our nervous system that doles out a small dopamine rush every time we accomplish something, even if that task is essentially random and almost certainly pointless.

I turn away to push some buttons on my phone.

When I look back, we’re crossing the bridge, the ticket is crumpled up in her hand, and she’s looking pensively out the window at the cold blue sky, the city looming into view, the river rolling beneath us, or maybe nothing at all.

Friday, February 21, 2020

Church Wedding

Katie and I married twice, first in Manhattan at a wedding venue and then in Brooklyn in a Catholic church, the church wedding being mostly for the benefit of her side of the family, including a couple of dead relatives who may have had opinions about the whole affair.

Today, we went looking for our wedding certificate to prove to our health insurance company that she could be on my benefits, and we found both the Manhattan and the Brooklyn one.

When I asked which we should use, Katie said, “The first one! The second one was just to keep the ghosts at bay."

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

New Smells

The dog in the backpack is doing pretty well, all things considered. He doesn't seem to mind the crowded subway car, or the slightly awkward way in which he has to hold his paws because of the angle of the backpack, and his soft brown eyes gaze on we commuters without judgement or alarm, even as the patch on the backpack that holds him ("PLEASE ASK TO PET') hints at issues with people in the past.

When I pull my yerba mate tea out of my bag and pop off the lid of my cup, he lifts his head and begins to strain his head this way and that in an attempt to look over his shoulder to see where this unusual smell might be coming from. "It's possible he's never smelled this before," I tell his owner, and she agrees.

Tuesday, February 18, 2020


The news of the death of a friend of ours shocks Katie and me pretty badly, so when I leave to walk to the drugstore down the block, Katie asks me to be particularly careful, particularly since an app she follows on her phone warned her of fighting and police activity a few blocks from the store.

The street is mostly quiet tonight, though, and even though there's no one around, I find myself examining the trash waiting for pickup on the curb, wondering if I can pull something from it to use as a weapon in the event of confrontation.

The drugstore is a strange oasis of fluorescent lights in the foggy darkness, and I quickly find the items I came for and check out with a young man who stands behind the counter with a blank expression and downcast eyes. 

"How you doing, man?" I ask, hoping for some sort of human contact, and he looks up to meet my gaze, and I am blessed by his smile.

King For A Day

"I'm just worried," she says, examining the loafers she's wearing in her reflection with concern, "that these shoes might be a little too Louis the Sixteenth."

"I think the heels would have to be higher for these to be anything but a Sun King kinda deal," I reply flippantly, and she turns and just sort of looks at me. Realizing I may have gone a little over everybody's head, I quickly add, "Not that I know anything about French Regencies or whatever!"

"No, that's right, I was just marveling at what you did there," she says with a smile.

Sunday, February 16, 2020

Names Are Important

The man lounges on the couch while on his lap, back paws on the man's stomach, forepaws on the mans crossed leg, stands a small white and russet colored dog. The dog's ears are erect and alert, and he scans the sales floor with a look of ownership and concern while standing utterly still.

I compliment the man on his excellent dog, and add, "They're really making chihuahuas awesome these days."

"He's a rat terrier," the man informs me with a withering look.


"How you feelin'?" my friend at work asks during a short pause in the rush.

"Honestly, man, I'm a little worn out," I reply, and his face lights up.

"I'm glad to hear that!" he says, laughing. "You can't trust someone who says they feel great all the time."

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Different Reasons

"There's ham in these," she says with distaste, picking apart the free breakfast croissants the company provided for the meeting.

"Oh, do you not eat pork?" I ask mildly.

"No, I like bacon, just not ham - did you think I was Muslim?"

"Mmm, lots of different reasons to not eat pork," I reply as I go back to my meal.

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Read The Room

"So the orgone is basically an anti-entropic principle," I tell my very sick wife as we lay on the couch, after she informs me that Orson Bean died recently. "Entropy is the concept that systems tend towards greater and greater disorder, you know, the second law of thermodynamics, which some people think makes creation from nothing kind of problematic.

"So orgone is the idea that there is an anti-entropic principle, an organizing principle which is essentially consciousness, that pervades the universe, and which has it's expression in people primarily in the human orgasm...," I continue.

"I hate everything you're saying right now," she says, looking at me beseechingly, as the tissues she's used to plug up her runny nose mute and distort her voice almost beyond recognition.

Monday, February 10, 2020

Sick Day (Off)

There's not much to talk about today, as it turns out. The tickle in the back of my sinuses has blossomed into a blockage, a heaviness in my chest, aches and pains and the occasional throbbing catastrophe in my head. 

Ibuprofen knocks most of it out, leaving me tired and unable to sleep at the same time, though that could just be a function of my daytime FOMO, the sense that if the sun is up, I should be doing something or other. 

Katie stands in the kitchen, peeling potatoes to make me soup while I putter on the old laptop I'm attempting to fix, whiling away the hours, wondering where the time went.

Friday, February 7, 2020

Greeting Others Safely

“Welcome!” I say cheerfully to the woman browsing the table of shoes (this is my go-to greeting at work, as it is less aggressive than “Can I help you?” and allows the person some space, but also lets them engage with me if they actually want something).

“Oh, I’m just looking,” she answers brusquely (the standard response for a person who just wants to be left alone.

“Sure!” I reply, ratcheting up my smile another notch. “That’s why I only said, 'Welcome!’"

Sunday, February 2, 2020

A Real Phony

This particular area in the Disney park seems like a carnival that blew into town and set up in a vacant lot. The four of us walk around, enjoying the ambience without really taking too much notice of things until John pipes up

“Do you see how they made it look kind of like an old parking lot?” he says, pointing out the asphalt on the ground, the faded, painted parking spots, the cracks in the pavement.

Suddenly the entire artifice of the place stands out in stark relief, a fake so convincing and blatant in in its having been designed and placed here on purpose that it becomes a different kind of real.

Also “On-Brand"

I am struggling to remember what I said that made me laugh so hard because it was so “on-brand” for Katie and I, but all I can get is, “I was saying something to you...."

“And then I said, ‘That was me, I told you that story,’” she replies, and she’s about to tell me what the story was when I interrupt her.

“Right, and it was...,” and then I trail off, unable to remember it.

“Well now you’ve scared it right out of my head,” she says.

Saturday, February 1, 2020

That’s Why

Work wasn’t great today, and after getting home late and eating a large helping of my feelings (homemade waffle with ice cream and chocolate sauce, followed by three slabs of garlic toast), I pull myself together and take the garbage and recycling out. 

As I’m trudging up the stairs to my apartment, I find myself thinking: why do I work so hard, if not to be exceptional, and if I’m not exceptional, why am I working so damn hard?

I open the door and Katie is standing in the living room, holding the cat, while “Footloose” blasts from the speaker. 

The three of us proceed to have an impromptu dance party to the dulcet tones of Kenny Loggins and company, and I instantly feel better.