Saturday, April 19, 2014

Flowers

"Yes, those are cherry blossoms," our cab driver says, interjecting yet again.

I don't turn around from where I'm seated in the front, but I can imagine Katie struggling not to roll her eyes.

"No, dad," she says, continuing the conversation with her father to which the driver was not really invited. "You're thinking magnolia trees."

Friday, April 18, 2014

Adultery?

The heavy-set guy in the knitted cap and the vintage tshirt and his friend walk down Union Street, going past me in the opposite direction. The sun has gone down behind them, turning the street that shade of blue-grey twilight peculiar to New York.

"And so she says, 'Babe, why don't we go to Europe?'" the heavy-set guy says to his friend. "Shit, dude, I haven't even left the country with my wife!"

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Just Keep Doing What You're Doing

I skip ahead in the book I'm currently reading with a certain guilt. Its grim squalor and constant downbeat tone are getting to me, and I feel guilty because somehow I've got it into my head that this is the type of book I should want to read (and therefore write) and my inability to stick with it and see it through to the end is indicative of all sorts of other moral failings, primarily my inability to finish my novel.

I get off the train and and walk through the concrete cave of the station to the stairs leading up to the exit, toying with the idea of packing it all in entirely. There's a certain peace that might come from giving up on the ideas I've had since I was a child of being a "famous" writer (or, indeed, a famous anything), and just being some dude; but then I realize, that's kind of what I'm doing anyway, so why even go through the hassle of "giving up?"

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Brush My Hair

Big girl, pretty, bored face, heavy-lidded eyes like she's always on the verge of sleep, hands her taller friend a tube of chapstick from her pocket.

Friend pulls off the cap like she's wringing the neck of a very small animal, twists the base, and applies it to her lips.

I envy their casual intimacy (sharing lip balm!) the way, as a kid, I used to envy the girls at recess, brushing one another's hair. I would steal glances as we ran by, yelling, playing Elves and Gnomes, or Battle of the Planets, some confusing bubble of longing filling up my chest as the brush turned blonde to burnished gold or brown to shining auburn falls with gentle, deliberate strokes.

Monday, April 14, 2014

The Wisdom of Children

There's a documentary on public television tonight about Muhammad Ali. When I was a child in the 1970's, he was a hero of mine, even though I hated violence and fighting.

I loved how clever he was, how brash and funny, and how confident he was, but I wonder if I would have liked him as much if I had been an adult back then. 

Everyone would like to think they would have been on the right side of history, against the Vietnam War, pro civil rights, but history allows us to make those choices ex post facto, and I'm not sure what I would have thought of this follower of Elijah Mohammed who tweaked the establishment, and stood up for himself with his mouth and his fists, if I had been just another white suburban liberal back in 1971, scared of something I didn't totally understand.

Briefing for a Descent into Hell

The moment the medicine starts working often passes unremarked: you're doing this or that, and all of a sudden you notice that you don't feel quite so shitty, without having noticed exactly when you became normal.

The moment that the medicine stops working, however, there is a sharp dividing line. One minute you are feeling almost yourself, maybe a little out of it, and the next the world goes all swimmy, and you're breathing half-underwater, a weight like a wet bag of sand on your chest, and the music in the IKEA where you were, just a moment ago, enjoying yourself and figuring out where those Stolmen Posts can fit in your bedroom, turns into hateful, mocking ditties sung by vicious little demons.

Katie must have seen me turn a little pale, says, "Okay, you're doing really well."

Saturday, April 12, 2014

The Joys of Adulthood

"Wait, it's not even eleven yet, right? So this is a rerun of Saturday Night Live."

"Yep."

"Thank God, the rest of the world is becoming as lame as I am."