Friday, June 24, 2022

Scary Monsters

The pleasures of a walk home on a cool summer night are lost on me as I ruminate about my future. I don’t notice the soft scent of jasmine, because I am worried I might be making a mistake in thinking about changing roles. I neglect the shimmering street lights reflected in the puddles in the street as they are stirred by gentle breezes, because shadows of my past rear up to frighten me with memories of times I was not so skilled or smart.

Then, crossing from one corner to another, I realize that, yet again, I’m actually just kind of hungry, and all my worries disappear like nighttime scary monsters in my childhood bedroom that turn out to be some clothes on a chair when the morning comes.

Thursday, June 23, 2022

The Mist

It doesn’t look like it’s raining, exactly, but the ground is wet, and people are walking with umbrellas, so what I mean is that you can’t see the raindrops shivering the puddles, or see the trees getting hammered with giant drops that shudder the leaves. We figure we’re okay to walk to the post office without rain gear.

But it turns out it’s less rain, and more walking through a very low cloud, not quite so fine as to be fog. Our hair is soaked before we even get to the end of the block.

Tuesday, June 21, 2022


Sirens are commonplace on the block outside our front window, so we don’t look up from the video we’re watching as they wail down the street, growing louder as they go.

The heavy crash that follows startles us out of our reverie, though, and we leap to the window, only to have our view blocked by scaffolding.

In an instant, Katie is on her feet, shoes on, keys obtained, and out the door to see what’s up. 

By the time I get down to the corner where the two ambulances collided, into each other and then one into a building, she’s already taking videos and making friends with other spectators, while lights flash angrily  and twisted, exposed engine blocks steam into the night.

Friday, June 17, 2022

A Blessing

She opens the door between the train cars and pulls herself through, only to stop, captivated for some reason, and stare at Katie, who is resting her head on my shoulder with her eyes closed. She stays that way for a few moments, staring with some deep emotion in her eyes, then shakes it off and walks to her customary spot and begin her spiel: “Good evening everyone, sorry to disturb you but I am homeless and I need a few dollars...,” etc.

After she has collected her money from a few kind people up and down the train, she comes back to where we’re sitting and stares at Katie for another few moments. “Are you okay?” she asks Katie, and when we assure her that Katie is just resting, she smiles and exits the train, blessing us as she goes.

Thursday, June 16, 2022

Anxiety Has Been Reduced

The sale shoes are on several free standing racks out by themselves on the floor, and because humans when confronted by a sale tend to behave like savages, they are often in terrible disarray at the end of the night.

One of my salespeople and I are putting the bombed out sales racks back together, him on one side, me on the other, and the rattle of leather and rubber against the metal and plastic of the racks in the quiet of the empty store is sort of soothing, if that’s your thing. I hear, through the racks, my co-worker singing quietly to himself, not loudly, not particularly well, but nicely, just singing a tuneless little tune to pass the time.

My first thought, whenever I hear someone singing, is to remember how wonderful it is to sing, and to want to sing along, because singing is one of my life’s true joys, but I stop myself, and simply listen, enjoying the sound of his simple tune. 

Always Go To Weddings

“It’s just, I have all these events,” she says in mild exasperation, “and I’ve been wearing nothing but comfy clothes for the last two years, but now I have to dress.”

“Well, maybe it’s better to think of it, not in terms of what you have to do,” I say, boxing up the shoes that she’s going to buy, “but what you get to do. Like you really haven’t been able to dress up for, what, two years now, but now you have these fun events that you get to go to, and you can kind of get fancy, and that can be fun.”

“A year ago, I would have been dreaming about going to a wedding,” she says, nodding.

Tuesday, June 14, 2022

Cry Havoc

Children strike heroic poses with cut up boxes for shields and nerf swords as their camp counselors herd them into two opposing groups facing each other across the park lawn. 

“Back up, back up, back up!” one of the counselors yells, to little effect, until finally he gets his miniature battalions lined up behind their starting lines. 

“Okay!” he shouts dramatically. “Five..., four..., threetwoonego!” and the spindly little kids on both sides scream bloody havoc and race toward each other to the resounding thwacks of duct tape covered foam beating on cardboard, and then it just sort of disintegrates into a bunch of little arguments about rules, and who’s out, and why.

Rethinking Ambition

Five-and-a-half hours floor watching in the shoe department - talking to people, solving problems, greeting customers, running back and forth. 

At the end of the day, almost nine o’clock, I sit down for the first time in hours and lay my head on the counter. One of my employees who has aspirations toward management sits down next to me and contemplates my weariness.

“You’re starting meke me thing that maybe I don’t want to be a manager,” she says.

Monday, June 13, 2022

Panic! On The Shoe Floor

The DJ is playing “Dancing On My Own,” a true banger, but this version of it is... off.

Is it the tempo (a hair too slow, not enough to notice if you’re not paying attention, but enough to bum me out), or the incessant swooooOOOOOSH of phase effects, or the st-st-stutter of the vocals looped and repeated?

A bad DJ can make you hate a song you love, just by playing it wrong.

As I walk around the sales floor of the shoe department, I find myself singing a phrase over and over from the song “Panic” by The Smiths: “Hang the DJ, hang the DJ, hang the DJ....,” but no one hears over the blare.

Saturday, June 11, 2022

Tyrannosaurus SEX, amirite?

This faux nature documentary about dinosaurs is remarkably well animated, and the textures on the dinosaurs’ skins are so realistic that it’s easy to forget these animals died millions of years ago.

So when the tyrannosaurus rex male and female begin to nuzzle each other by the side of the river, it honestly starts to feel a little voyeuristic. And the artfully placed palm fronds do nothing to decrease our discomfort, despite concealing all the important details, when they actually show him mounting her.

"This is like the time I watched two pigeons mate while I got a root canal,” Katie says as she looks literally anywhere in the room but the screen, while David Attenborough narrates the murder of our childhood innocence.

Friday, June 10, 2022


Traffic along 7th Avenue in Brooklyn is thick, this time of day - cars double parked, drivers pulling out into intersections and blocking cross-traffic on red, all kinds of shenanigans. So it isn’t that big of a deal when the bus driver of the bus I’m in honks politely at the guy with his door open into traffic to let him know that we’re passing.

But instead of taking the honk as the gentle warning that it was, the guy scowls, glares at the bus as it passes, and then stalks alongside it to stand in front of us. He waves his hands angrily, then continues on his way, easily outpacing us due to the sluggishness of traffic.

Thursday, June 9, 2022

Early Shift

I finally find the contact case I’m looking for in my dream when the alarm goes off, and I am wrenched into a dark room. I can hear a light rain on the air-conditioner, and thunder grumbles as I tap the screen until the gentle tones of piano and chimes designed to awaken me cease.

Standing is a bit of a trick these days after I’ve been lying still for hours, and I reach out for my shelves to steady myself. My hips and knees and heels all protest with varying volume, and I make my way out of the bedroom and down the hall in the dark. 

Wednesday, June 8, 2022


A warm day in late spring, and the whole world is breathing out sweetness. Trees that held their breath through the long winter exhaling green, sultry roses seducing the neighborhood with perfume, vines lifting their leafy faces to the sun - everything scented and filling the air with life.

We walk by an apartment building, and all the bins are out for garbage collection, and even that smell, the ripe pong of trash, isn’t the worst thing I’ve ever smelled. I don’t inhale too deeply, of course, but there’s a pungent flash of rot, a momentary spike of unsavoriness that’s almost immediately swept away in the gentle breeze, leaving nothing but a waft of dust and the smell of sun.

Monday, June 6, 2022


“Get the fuck out of my cab!” the bicycle cabbie yells, but the man at whom he’s yelling does not budge. Now the whole park is watching, all of us on the sunny late spring lawn, under blue skies and rustling green canopy peering up from our picnics or books or phones to watch the drama, which has now escalated to the bike cabbie shaking the cab and shouting curse words.

But in a few moments the man has quieted down, and now the two of them are speaking earnestly for a while, then embracing, and the bike cabbie gets on his bike, the passenger at whom he was screaming only seconds ago still in the cab, and rides off. The park collectively sighs, goes back to what it was doing, and the day proceeds as if nothing at all had happened.

Saturday, June 4, 2022

Timing Is Everything

“Do you remember startling awake to my sneeze last night?” she asks from the shower.

“Yes,” I answer.

“It was not that loud.”

“Yes, but your timing was impeccable."

Friday, June 3, 2022

‘Fess Up

Someone has left a mess on the cash wrap by the register, boxes and display shoes strewn everywhere, and I’m pretty sure I know who it is.

But when I ask her, she denies it, so, without accusing, I say, “Okay, you’re still going to be cleaning it up for your closer before you go home.”

A few minutes later, as she’s putting the boxes away, she says, “You know, I just remembered, these were mine.”

“I know,” I say, smiling.

Thursday, June 2, 2022

The Blow Up

Seven o’clock, quitting time for me, comes and goes without the other manager coming to replace me on the floor. Traffic in the store has settled into a pattern, these days, with everyone coming in after their offices close around six o’clock, and we’re always short-staffed, leaving the final two hours before closing at eight a mess of running around, attempting to find salespeople, irritated customers, and stressed out managers, in this case: me.

Five after seven, then ten, and every minute seems like an eternity, because I have allotted exactly the energy required to get me through the day, through my last hour of the day, and my irritation festers and blossoms into a red-hot anger in my stomach, and then, finally, she shows up.

“I know you’ve asked me to be more direct,” I say quietly to her, “so let me tell you, I don’t like ten minutes late."