Monday, October 25, 2021

2-Stars, Would Not Ride Again

The driver made a crucial error in where he's placed his GPS, because now, every time he drives right into the red outline indicating traffic jams, we can see the route he should have taken. 

Beside me, Katie's fuming is threatening to burst into flame.

The increasingly erratic driver, in a move that baffles us, turns down a seemingly random Chinatown side street, and suddenly we are careening down a narrow alley lined with spherical, brightly colored paper lanterns and signs covered in flame-like letters we cannot read.

My mounting frustration is forgotten in the novelty of the view, until we end up at Canal Street, arguably the worst street to be on during rush hour traffic, and I can almost hear, from across the back seat, the sound of Katie grinding her teeth to powder.

Sunday, October 24, 2021

Works On People Too

The Bernese Mountain Dog splayed across the floor gazes up with soulful eyes as I approach his owners.

"Sorry, ma'am, I think you spilled your dog," I joke, and the mountain of fur and love leaps to his feet and begins rubbing the entirety of his body on me, wriggling and whining with joy.

"My wife says that if I'm ever feeling bad, I should just find a dog and tell him that he's a good boy, so, 'You're such a good boy!'" I tell them as the dog continues to shove me around the room. "Because then, you make the dog's day better, and you make your day better too."

Let 'Em Look

I stand at the sink in my underwear and fill up my and Katie's water bottles for the night, like I do every night. Turning my head, I look out the kitchen window into the darkness of the backyard, and at the glowing lights of the apartment building that looms over one side of it. 

I read somewhere that if you don't have a naked neighbor, you probably ARE the naked neighbor. I turn the water off, screw the bottles tight so they don't spill in the night, and go to bed.

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

New York Is Context

The cold air of an autumn's night claps me on the back like an old friend as I climb out of the earth from the subway. 

As I'm about to round the corner, a flash of color and movement catches my eye from the street, and I turn to see a man, a Jewish man from his black orthodox-approved hat, to his white shirt, to the tzitzis hanging out over his black pants, riding on an electric scooter, much like the one I own. Strapped to the front of his scooter is a flag pole, and from this flag pole, streaming out behind him like he's going into battle, is a giant yellow flag, at least six feet long and four feet high, covered by a picture of crown surmounted by the word "MOSIACH" in all-caps.

He weaves in and out of traffic, nonchalant and triumphant, until he disappears up Flatbush and into the night.

Tuesday, October 12, 2021


I come out of the daze of my phone screen to find a woman staring at me from across the train aisle. I’ve done nothing I’m aware of that might elicit enmity, so I put my phone away and look around the car.

She relaxes, leans back, and puts her foot up on the pole directly in front of her seat. This seems a bit uncouth, but nothing I haven’t seen before, so I continue looking around, while the man next to me, seeing the sole of her foot towards him, sighs and rolls his eyes.

Monday, October 11, 2021

Times I Went Outside Today: 2

At the bottom of the stairs, I shoulder the enormous bag of laundry and trudge down to the corner. I think of peasants carrying enormous bags of sticks, like on that Led Zeppelin album cover. 

At the laundromat, I drop it off after receiving assurances that I can pick it up, clean and dry and folded, before the end of the day, a privilege for which I will pay dearly, and then head back home. The cloudy sky that has been threatening rain all morning begins to pour in earnest, and I wrap my flannel around me and run across the street, my size 12 Converse flapping on the rapidly wetting asphalt until I'm safely under the awning of the real estate office around the corner from my apartment, and I walk under that until I'm safely home.

Friday, October 8, 2021

Sources Of Light

Sunset reflecting off the metal subway car wall bright as a burning filament above a woman bent over her phone. The phone is a weaker light, but she can barely look away to acknowledge the enormous ball of nuclear fire sinking into the west over New Jersey. She looks up and squints into the real as it bands across her eyes.

I pull out my phone to type this, despite the notebook and pen in my bag.

Wednesday, October 6, 2021

Nice Save

It is well past time when the store closes, but of course we don't kick people out, so the woman in nurse's scrubs coming up to me with a shoe in her hand, while not my favorite, is just part of the deal of working retail.

As she hands me the shoe to fetch from the stockroom, she fixes me with a tired smile and says, "I just want to go home."

Before I know what I'm saying, out of my mouth comes, "I want you to go home too."

"...because I can see in your eyes how tired you are, and I sympathize completely," I add without a pause, and she laughs, and we just keep it going. 

Sweet Sorrow

The floofiest dog I've ever seen (imagine Bob Ross's halo of curls given four legs and a rambunctious personality) catches sight of me on the shoe floor, and we lock eyes, sharing a moment as you do with a random dog. He immediately stops to greet me, like a good boy, stopping his owner dead at the end of his leash as she heads toward the elevator.

But I'm the manager, so I can't inconvenience her, so in order not to impede her progress, I start walking too. The dog is totally on board with the addition to his traveling pack, and together we bound to the elevator, where his grateful owner offers me sheepish thanks while a confused dog watches as the doors close.

Monday, October 4, 2021


The cops come on the train with all the subtly of a car wreck, banging on things and triggering some sort of electronic, high-frequency whistle to wake up the old guy sleeping across the bench. Then they stand around, looking vaguely stupid and muscle-y, and since things have sort of hit some sort of equilibrium and they seem poised to do no further mischief, I go back to reading my book.

They all seem to be wearing masks, so we can be grateful for that, I guess.

There's a loud bang, and a dozen heads all snap up from phones and books simultaneously, but it's just one of the meathead cops dropping his phone, and he sheepishly bends over to pick it up while the handle of his pistol digs into the dough of his abdomen.

Sunday, October 3, 2021

Dad's Favorite

The toddler with the ball has been running all over the park, taking aim at anything that stays still long enough, throwing the ball at the thing, and then chasing after the ball, all of this while followed closely by his t-shirted, baseball cap wearing father.

Now however, he has found a new target: a smaller child in his family group, presumably his little brother. He eyeballs the distance, cocks his arm back, and lets fly, beaning the other child in the head.

His father pumps his fist in triumph while his little pitcher walks over, gives the smaller child a hug, and then throws him to the ground.

Saturday, October 2, 2021

In Public

The four boys are pretty young to be out this late, and they are making the most of their evening. One of them attempts to climb the walk/don't walk sign while the others chant "Spider-man, Spider-man, Spider-man!"

I smile at their shenanigans as I walk past, and it occurs to me that you know you're a grown-up when you no longer feel nervous walking by kids or teenagers, because you know that you are, in fact, invisible to them. 

When one of them chastises the others for making a scene "in public" another one retorts, "Everywhere is 'in public!'"

Friday, October 1, 2021

Believe Your Eyes

October wastes no time bringing cooler nights, and there's the slightest chill in the air as I stand on the curb tying up bags of recycling. 

The woman stops in front of my door a few feet away and we make eye contact for the briefest of moments before I look away, not wanting to frighten her. 

I continue with my chore while still watching her out of the corner of my eye, and she examines the door closely until she finally gets up the courage to say, "Is this 106?"

"No, it's 108," I reply, which seems to satisfy the evidence of her senses (it is, after all, written on the door in large gold numbers), and she moves one door down on her quest, while I finish up taking out the trash.