Wednesday, September 30, 2020

The Adults Are Talking

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

No Thanks

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.

A Vibe, A Mood

She likes the shoes, but they are a little flashy for her. Her sister, with whom she’s been speaking English and Arabic all night, says, by way of advice, “Well, if you want practical shoes, get those,” indicating a different pair she was looking at, "but if you’re here for mazag, well....”

“Wait, what does that word mean?” I ask.

“After all the Arabic we’ve been speaking, you pick out the best word,” she replies, smiling.

Saturday, September 26, 2020

All Night Long

I place the last bag of trash on the curb in the cool night air, and when I stand up, cheers rise from the direction of the park like the sound of an approaching parade: joyful and raucous. 

Then, a flight of bicycles, dozens of them, flashes through the intersection in a noisy mob, laughing and calling to each other, chased by the whizz of gears spinning and the hoot of sirens.

A compatriot of theirs holds back the meager traffic while they pass, then pedals hard after, followed by a police car, then a paddy wagon, and then an ambulance, lights flashing in annoyance at it all.

Upstairs afterward, I find myself humming a Lionel Richie song as I brush my teeth - everyone you meet, they’re jamming in the streets, all night looooong....

Friday, September 25, 2020

Dog Beach At Dusk

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

Hiding the Smells

“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

What I’ve Been Thinking About Today (from an email to a friend)

"Business is slow, but picking up gradually. 

I often come home too tired to work on music or write, as it’s physically and emotionally pretty demanding (selling involves being ON the entire time, and there’s quite a bit of running about fetching shoes, putting shoes back, standing up to go to the mirror with her to look at the shoes, sitting down to try on more shoes, getting different sized shoes, moving the bins of shoes to a different place to make room for more shoes, etc. etc. etc. ad infinitum, ad absurdum). I am, for obvious reasons, reminded of Rimbaud, though I would not say my earlier work showed as much promise, or that my diminished artistic output is quite as much of a loss. 

I feel lucky to have a job, and [the company] is honestly quite excellent - they’ve turned their offices into voter registration hubs, publicly and vocally support Black Lives Matter despite (or perhaps because of) substantial looting of stores during the recent protests as well as making some pretty dramatic structural changes to increase equality among employees and management, and paid for all furloughed employees health insurance for the duration."


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

Surprising Indifference

“Oh my God,” Katie says, stopping suddenly in the middle of the sidewalk. “What is that?”

“That” is an enormous spider, posed very photogenically in the center of exactly what you would think of if somebody asked you to picture a spiderweb with an enormous, spooky spider in the middle.

We take some pictures of it, but I am surprised how few other people want to see the very large spider sitting in the middle of her web.