Friday, July 31, 2020


I sit down outside the grocery store to wait for Katie next to the dog who is tied up out there, and the dog, smelling the two slices of pizza I'm carrying, becomes very friendly. 

His muzzle makes him less than effective at stealing slices, though, so we sit in companionable silence for a while, me scratching his ears and stroking his fur, and he seems content with that.

His owner comes out of the store after a bit and her expression seems mildly irritated to see the two of us, her dog and me, hanging out peacefully. 

"I suppose you didn't notice the muzzle," she asks sardonically, and I shrug and smile.

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Not The Cute Side

I finish my phone call with my newly expatriate friend whose recent marriage allowed him to move to Italy, and go the to kitchen where Katie sits at the table, drinking her coffee.

"When are we moving to Europe?" I ask.

"As soon as we get wives," she says, looking up from her phone. "We can't even get to the cute side of Niagara, right now," she adds.

Behind The Mask

We’re getting a rundown of all the new items that will be available for fall at the store - it’s a lot of information, but I’m doing my best to take it all in.

Emily is describing the kids’ shoes that will be available (“walkers can have either flexible or non-flexible soles,” she tells us) when it suddenly occurs to me that we’re all wearing masks. Some are the masks issued by the store for us to wear, some are black or colorful masks from home, but as her mouth opens and closes to let the words come out all I can see are her eyes and the working of her jaw behind the cloth.

I think about veils, and burqas, and how quickly the strange and unusual becomes commonplace, boring even.

Monday, July 20, 2020

Heat Wave

“I hope you don’t mind,” my customer says. Her mask sucks against her nostrils and mouth as she breathes hard. “I think the heat got to me, and I just need to sit here for a minute.”

“You need me to get you some water?” I ask as gently as I can.

Time For More Fashion

"You seemed a little upset the other day," I tell my co-worker. "Everything work out?"

"What was I wearing?" she finally asks, after a moment's confusion. "I don't remember days, but I remember outfits."

Saturday, July 18, 2020

Making Noise

I put the saxophone down and listen to the playback. Later on, when Katie listens to it too, she says it has a real "Miami Vice vibe." I was going for more M83, but the drums sound like Nine Inch Nails.

The music and the thrill of making something still singing so loud in my head that I'm vibrating, I walk out of my room to the living room to lie on the couch, where my roommate looks up from the puzzle he's working on to smile and say, "Hello."

Turn To The Left

"So she bought an Alexander Wang tuxedo suit, and yeah, it's for a wedding thing and she loves it so I'm definitely keeping my mouth shut, but I think about the, like, whole consumerist thing and it bums me out a little," my friend behind the bar at work tells me.

"I get that," I reply, "but it's a lot easier to think about fashion, especially with the designer items that aren't covered in labels and stuff, as art."

"Yeah, I get that," he says.

"And since art is, in the end, a form of communication, the question then becomes, with fashion, what is being communicated?"

Thursday, July 16, 2020

Read The Room, Man

The subway car isn't empty, but it's about full for what ever passes for a normal Thursday night in pandemic-time. People are sitting appropriately distanced, and everybody is wearing masks.

An older gentleman (wearing a mask, thank god) steps on the train, and, unprovoked, sits down next to me, like that's something he can just do.

I don't look at him, I don't react verbally, I don't flinch, I just stand up and go sit in another part of the train, which he could have done, if he wasn't a socially clueless idiot.

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Breathing Problems

"I'm so sorry to ask you, again," I say, using my best 'customer service voice' so that the emphasis only barely shows. "But, just for your own safety, could you please pull your mask up?"

The clearly buzzed woman who has been flitting around the sales floor with her mask around her neck like a not-very-attractive scarf looks at me balefully and then pulls it up over her face. "I have a hard time breathing when I wear it," she says petulantly, and I just nod and reply, "Uh-huh."

Monday, July 13, 2020

Oprah's Book Club Nominee (nonexistent category)

"Did you read 'The Lemonade Year'?" my manager asks me during a slow period at work

"No, who wrote it?" I reply.

He gives me a strange look, and then repeats himself, enunciating to be understood from under his mask, saying, "Have you tried the lemonade here?"

"Though, to be fair," he continues thoughtfully, "that does sound like a pretty good book."

Sunday, July 12, 2020

Nothing To Be Sorry About

The woman in the flowered turquoise muumuu is standing directly in front of the washing machine where my clothes are waiting, looking at her phone.

"Hi," I say, pointing at the machine. "I'm gonna just go right where you're standing, and then I'll be outta your way."

She startles and apologizes, starts to move out of the way, and I tell her, "Nope, you're fine, nothing to be sorry about."

Four Sentences

"What was your Four Each Day about?" she asks as we prepare to go to bed (and watch videos until we fall asleep).

"I didn't write one," I say, a bit defensively.

"It's not that I ddn't have anything to write about, it's just," I continue after she gently asks what I think about that, "I just didn't feel like writing one."

"That sounds like four sentences," she says after I'm finished.

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

U See This?

Aaron at U-Haul goes looking for my rental truck, then saunters without urgency back to where I'm standing. My truck (for which I have gotten out of bed early, to come here early, to pick my truck up early, so we can load all of Katie's sculptures and displays early, so we can arrive at the market early enough to get a good parking space and not drive all over God's creation looking for one) is conspicuous in its absence.

He makes a "wait here" sort of motion with his hands, so I do, and then he comes out, ten minutes later, with a new set of keys and still no sense of urgency (I must be feeling stressed for both of us) and walks to get me another truck, since the last one apparently "wouldn't start."

I feel a certain amount of relief when he drives up with my truck, only to have my hopes dashed by the sight of, in the back of the truck, where all the stuff is supposed to go, a half-an-inch of standing, soapy water, and I call Aaron back over with, "Hey, take a look at this for me, would you?"

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

I Don't Listen To Enough Murder Podcasts

Katie rushes excitedly into the kitchen and shows me the foot upon which she dropped the computer a few days ago. The bruise just above her instep sulks with purple and green and pale yellow. "I have lividity!" she yells with delight.

She explains that lividity occurs when a person has been dead in one position for a long time, and the blood in the body pools in one area, and when I seem less than enthusiastic, she seems incredibly disappointed in me.

Monday, July 6, 2020

Keep Walking

The guy with the messy hair and the enormous, dirty backpack passes us from behind as we're walking down the sidewalk. He's not wearing a mask, but we let it slide because we're outside, it's a nice day, and sometimes you just can't be bothered to fight every battle.

Then he stops up short in front of a house and, pointing to the "Black Lives Matter" sign in the window, says to the person in the yard, "You know, Black Lives Matter doesn't have anything to do with the death of George Floyd...."

Whatever he had to say next is lost, though, as Katie and I walk up and Katie, with an imperious shoo-ing gesture, says to him, simply, "Keep walking," and, with a startled look, after quickly pulling up his mask, he does.

Friday, July 3, 2020

To Vibe Or Not To Vibe

"You see, I knew we were both Cancers," my customer says after I tell her that my birthday was a few days before hers. "That's why we're vibing so hard."

Just then, behind her, a large, floofy white dog, with an intelligent, carefree expression and perky ears, gets off the elevator, and wishing to share my good fortune at seeing such a creature with my new friend, I ask, "So how do you feel about dogs?"

"They're okay," she says, shrugging, and I know for a fact that we are not, remotely, vibing, at all.

Thursday, July 2, 2020

Empty-A (say it out loud)

The subway is pretty empty, even for a Wednesday evening in what is still, arguably, a partial quarantine. We ride along underground for a while, me reading my book, until the train climbs up the bridge and heads out over the water.

Another train runs parallel to this one, dark beneath the shadowing trestles of Manhattan Bridge, while behind it the city still sits in the dying light of the end of day. I watch the train for a while, and turn back to my book.

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

The Distance

The grass is still wet from the earlier rainstorm when we walk through the park, but the clouds are quickly clearing.

"Looks like we've got the place to ourselves," I tell Katie. 

"Yeah, I booked the entire park for your birthday," she replies, surveying with satisfaction the meadow, empty as it is except for the birds meticulously combing the grass for grubs and worms. "I think the nearest person is at least a tenth-of-a-mile away," she adds as she points to tiny, distant children playing with bubbles on the hill, and they might even be further than that.