Monday, December 5, 2016

Secondhand Communion

I pause in the vestibule of my building before heading out into the night to push my earbuds into my ears and zip up my coat. The form-fitting plugs of the earbuds are as much to cancel out the noise of the subway station, the streets, New York, as they are for the music I thumb into life on the screen of my phone.

Down on the platform waiting to go home, as the music plays, I click on the lyrics to read along, and I'm reminded of how much I dislike lyrics websites. There was a time when I would pore over the lyrics sheets that came in the records I bought for a couple bucks apiece, looking for clues, obsessing over nuance, but now, with the lyrics typed up by somebody I don't even know, it's like there's a third party in the relationship, somebody interpolating themselves between us, instead of just me and the artist communing in the space between my ears, him whispering inside me through my headphones right into the center of my brain.
One year ago today: Old Salt
Two years ago today: Lost Pen
Three years ago today: Rumors of the Real World
Six years ago today: 12/5/10 What more do you want from me? A cookie?

It's Beginning to Smell a Lot Like Christmas

The Christmas trees they're selling on the street next to the co-op smell heavenly, a lovely, citrusy pine smell that wafts across the pavement in pungent, delicious waves. We scrutinize the small handful they've got leaning on a wooden frame, but they're mostly too tall, and the shorter ones are too wide, even though they're all handsome and green, with strong needles that don't fall when you bounce the base of their trunks on the sidewalk.

Finally the woman running the place comes over and asks if we need anything, and after a little negotiation, we find the right tree: not too fat or skinny, good, tight branches, and just a little taller than me. We pay for it and I tuck it under my arm to haul it home, the dark, sticky pine sap staining my fingers to the point where I find myself sniffing my hands for the rest of the night, drinking in concentrated childhood longing.
One year ago today: The Bright Side
Two years ago today: Cooking Together
Three years ago today: Who Cares What You Think?
Six years ago today: 12/4/10 Which is what we named the tree

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Who Usually Takes Charge

"I don't really care where we eat," says Dan, hands above his head in a "don't shoot" posture. "You guys decide."

"Great," one of them says, and then the three women's heads dive into their phones to find us a spot while Dan and I watch, impressed.

"Lucky you just got kind of opted out, without having to abdicate like I did," he says, and I shrug happily.
One year ago today: A Discourse on Unheimlich
Two years ago today: Matthew 25:40
Three years ago today: Unconscious

Saturday, December 3, 2016


Something sparkles on the edge of sight, and without thinking I lean down and scoop it up - an amethyst, rough cut, about the size of an egg, shading from translucent white into purple at the tip. The tiny bronze-ish loop embedded at the base suggests it might have once been a pendant.

I hesitate for only a moment before deciding to go back out of the subway gates to give it to the subway attendant in her booth in case someone comes looking for it, but the entire time I'm wondering: is this a gift from the universe for me to keep, or a test of honesty I'm meant to pass?

After I drop it with the attendant, I ask to be let back into the subway, and she chides, "The next time you come out, make sure I see you, 'cause I don't know if you paid to go in or not."
One year ago today: Lighten Up
Two years ago today: "Lights, Please?"
Three years ago today: Here, You Throw This Away

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Not His Night

After we figure out that the tickets for the show are for tomorrow night, not tonight, my friend and I head down to the subway back to Brooklyn.

Just as I'm through the gate, he says, "You know, I just used this -" meaning his MetroCard that allows him entrance into the subway station. "I hope it works," he finishes, and I'm on the other side.

But sure enough, it won't let him through (there's around a fifteen minute wait on the unlimited MetroCards before you can use them again), and he says through the bars with a rueful look, "You know, with the luck I'm having, you might just want to head home - get a little farther away from me."
One year ago today: Sounds Pretty Good, Even to a Vegetarian
Two years ago today: Melancholia
Three years ago today: That's How I Got Over My Fear of Heights
Six years ago today: 12/1/10 So much for meditation

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Kinda True

"It turns out we've got plenty of software licenses for Adobe Acrobat," my boss says, "so if you ask IT to install a copy on my machine, I won't have to send you these documents to convert all the time."

"Sure, no problem," I say. "I'll just have to find job security some other way."

She laughs (but does she think it's funny?).
One year ago today: Barking at Midnight
Two years ago today: Nostalgia

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Know Return (Been Here Before)

"Siri, play 'The Point of Know Return' by Kansas," I say into my phone. The dog tentatively makes her way down from stair to stair like an unseen current is about to sweep her away.

At the bridge of the song ("Your father, he says he needs you/Your mother, she says she loves you") my heart swells up inside me, and I stop on the stairs, longing for the life of adventure the songs sing about, even though I know they're all lies and fantasies someone made up.

I consider the playlist I'd create of songs that use that metaphor, so common in rock and pop music for the last few decades, and I wish for big strong wings on my back, while the dog stares out the front door thinking of nothing at all.
One year ago today: Neutrality
Two years ago today: All Things Considered
Three years ago today: Paris, je t'adore
Six years ago today: 11/29/10 Even kids aren't really that much of an accomplishment