Friday, October 24, 2014

Whining Hypochondria

"I don't know," I say, yawning. "I've just felt off all day, and the movie wasn't really that scary."

"Well, we can watch a scary movie in bed," Katie says as she rises from the couch.

But when I try to pick up the plates to clear the table, something in my elbow twinges in protest, and for a brief second I wonder if all today's ailments are somehow related: my stomach pains, general lassitude, dizzy spells, pain in joints that won't go away - maybe some kind of weird cancer or something that'll get discovered when it's too late to do anything about it because I hate to go to the doctor.

Thursday, October 23, 2014


Despite my occasional religious mania, I've never been afraid of hell. I've found myself unable to believe in a God that was so arbitrary as to punish eternally for sins that only lasted the duration of this brief life here on earth.

That being said, I am afraid that, if there is balance and justice in this world, reincarnation may exist, and that I might end up coming back as, say, a Chinese woman watching the days of my life peel away in twelve hour shifts in some factory in rural Guangdong Province, or as a man trying to cross the border from Northern Sonora into Arizona in the claustrophobic darkness of a coyote's truck, hoping he doesn't rob me and leave me and my family for dead in the desert.

If I'm unlucky, I won't even be a human at all, but I try to remain optimistic.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Candy (Sour)

"They are calling it K2, and it is killing our children," says the bald preacher with the glassless eyeglasses holding up three foil packets decorated with cartoon images. "And the parents say, 'Well I saw it around the house, but I just thought it was candy,' but I'm here to tell you it is not candy. It is a drug."

"Just last week," he says, "just last week a boy was taking K2, and he killed his father, he stabbed him up because he was hallucinating that his father was a demon!"

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Sunset (Bitter)

Going over the bridge on the Q train, the sunset burns the color of a Venetian Spritz (golden white wine, bloody red Campari, sparkling water). The Statue of Liberty stands small and defiant beneath, dwarfed by the immensity of the everyday.

Just then, as we pass apogee, the short guy with the acoustic guitar who's been lurking by the door steps into the center of the train and begins to sing a sad, quiet song in Spanish. His voice is resigned and melancholy, and the train goes silent for a moment after he's finished, before we fall from the sky down the parabola of steel, rushing back beneath the earth of Brooklyn.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Healthy Eating (Salt)

Wine poured, grilled cheese sandwiches cut in half, roasted veggies on the side. We sit on the couch and chow down in front of the TV.

"I didn't salt any of the food," Katie says as the theme from The Walking Dead starts up. "I figured the fake bacon and butter would take care of it."

Sunday, October 19, 2014

The Antique Shop (Umami)

There are skulls and skeletons everywhere: in the display cases (human skulls, animal skulls, an articulated lemur skeleton perched fetchingly on a tree branch), next to the taxidermied deer parts, on shelves and bureaus, stenciled on helmets and warning of poison on antique bottles. Books leer with the faces of devils and remonstrate with disapproving angels. Esoteric symbols that no one remembers peek out from mugs and on china patterns of which this example may be the last remaining.

And over all of it, over the ouija boards and the marionettes, the diaries from long dead spinsters and toys played with by children who are now in the grave, is a savor of time, dust, the flavor of years that have passed and gone, and we are time travelers, picking up the pieces of the past, putting them down again.


The apple pie contest is in full swing, people sampling the various cinnamon and apple pastries and casting their votes, and the air smells warm and delicious. It's all in good fun, except for the one older woman with the purple streak in her hair and the mean streak in her heart, who seems to be taking it all VERY seriously. She's brought two pies, and she seems to think that it's really important that she win... something, though no one is quite sure what it is she thinks she's going to win.

Katie laughs and jokes with the judges and the other contestants, saying, "When the stakes are this low, the only thing to do is make friends," but the lady with the purple streak in her hair is clearly not here to do anything of the sort, and keeps throwing dirty looks Katie's way like she wishes she were throwing grenades.