Friday, November 13, 2009

11/12/09 - Really, it's tougher on the people around me than on me

I sit down on the floor. The song isn't right - it isn't right, and I'm not sure how to fix it, which makes it even more of a drag. I lay my guitar aside and and try to explain to Ray why, making more and more of a hash of it, and getting more upset and despairing until finally I realize the problem: I'm hungry.

The despair vanishes, and I put my guitar away, since I've killed the vibe, but at least I know why I feel crazy.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

11/11/09 - Nicholson Baker's "Box of Matches" inspired me

Bicycling through Prospect Park on a mildly chilly Fall day, the leaves spin lazy whorls through the gray air like they just don't care. I taste that sour-spicy smell of decaying leaves, cold, and soil that is specifically fall, and nostalgia hits me so hard I almost start crying. So many good things that I had to destroy, so many things that I thought I could never have again, all coming back to me, and I am so grateful.

"I'm here," I say out loud, to remind myself that I am, and I put nostalgia aside for a minute so I don't miss a second, push the pedals again, watch the leaves gather into drifts on the side of the road.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

9/18/09 - Get the Cool Shoeshine

The latina woman who shines shoes in the shop in the breezeway tunnel below Grand Central is asleep curled up in her chair with one cheek resting on her fist when I walk into the shop. The neon sign on the window says "Keys Made Shoe Repair" in glowing red, and a paper sign below that says "Holiday Special $2 Shine".

She awakens without embarrassment and motions me into the chair where she proceeds to enact a very practical ritual with a minimum of wasted motion - brushing and wiping and spraying and shining and spraying and buffing and snapping the cloth and buffing some more until the shoe glows blackly beneath the greenish flourescent lights.

I ascend the stairs and walk into the sunlit day beneath a blue sky, and my shoes feel like magic on my feet - cooler, better fitting, dancing their way down the street with me in them, pulling me along the sidewalk through the day.

Friday, September 18, 2009

9/17/09 - Because I promised

We return from the Aretha Franklin show at Radio City Music Hall weary, exasperated, underwhelmed with the performance. My body still buzzes with adrenenline from the end of the show where Katie, in contrast to her usual modus operandi, actually stopped a fight between two assholes sitting near us in our mezzanine seats.

There's a moment or two of bickering as we pack for tomorrow's journey to Connecticut for her cousin's wedding (do I have any clean clothes? Can I pull off stripes with pinstripes? Will you just answer the question?) until Katie, seeing that I am using the ironing board, throws down her unironed shirt on the couch with a sigh and goes to take a shower.

I pick up the shirt and, despite its being a girl's shirt and therefore constructed like the proverbial Chinese Algebra problem, I attempt to iron it, hoping that with this small act I can smoothe both her ruffled fur, and mine.

Friday, July 31, 2009

7/31/09 - too hot, too humid, too crowded

Even the massive bulk of the trains hurtling by the platform can't stir the thick, tepid air. Sweat hangs on every passing face like a soaked veil.

The girl sitting next to me on the bench as we wait for the next Q to whisk us away to air-conditioned (albeit standing, crowded) nirvana arranges herself just so to avoid touching me accidentally, and I do likewise. We sit, simmering in the wet air, watching the trains come and go on the other, Brooklyn-bound platform, and pretending we don't notice each other at all.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

7/30/09 - Connect the Dots: Bald, Crazy Fucker Edition

I play a game sometimes, hearing a song or watching a movie, that, until recently, I wasn't even aware I was playing. A sample game goes something like this: listening to my iPod, I hear a song called "Gunning for the Buddha" by Shriekback, which made me think of Grant Morrison, who wrote a chapter of his comic book The Invisibles called "Oh Buddha, Up Yours", which included the character King Mob, who looks a lot like a buffer, slightly more violent Spider Jerusalem.

Katie, of course, was long familiar with this (pointless) game by the time I figured out that it was "something I do," which you can imagine was pretty disconcerting. There is a whole world out there that sees you and forms opinions of you and notices patterns in the things you do, and even makes decisions about you and predictions about what it thinks you'll do next, even if you don't know yourself; and sometimes, they'll be right.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

7/27/09 - at best

Deadlines begin to, if not exactly loom, then at least to stand nearby and look menacing. I spend a futile evening playing with African guitar tunings whose simple alterations to standard serve only to prove that I need to play more if I'm going to pull off this massive project in September.

Later that night, I lie in bed complaining to Katie until I catch myself and apologize, saying, "I guess I'm not really at my best right now, am I?"

She tousles my hair and smiles, replying, "I'm tired of seeing you at your best."

Sunday, July 26, 2009

7/26/09 - Weird ways we're connected

The sun continues to shine, despite the dire warnings of the Weather Channel et al. We wander down Bergen Street and look at the dogs and people, count the stores that have closed and the new ones that seem to spring up immediately to take the place of the fallen.

When I see Jai at the Chocolate Room (when did his hair begin to gray like that?) he is sweet and polite, and it's good to see him, but as usual, most people have someplace to be and I'll talk all day. He politely bids Katie and I good day, and extricates himself, and as we're walking away, Katie says, "He went to NC State, right?"

Monday, July 20, 2009

7/19/09 - C.H.U.D.

The subway tunnel we stood in was walled up at either end, and the tracks were long gone beneath 150 years of dirt and neglect. The air was cold and clammy, and Katie shivered a little as the group we were touring the long lost "Oldest Subway Tunnel in the World" with played their flashlights up and down the whitewashed bricks that arched above us, and down the half a mile of dark tunnel punctuated by the occasional bare lightbulb.

The overweight, greasy, pallid man who guided the tour would sit down every hundred yards or so to tell us stories about the history of the tunnel in a rushed, out of breath voice that seemed to me to indicate that he'd simply like to get us out of here as quickly as possible, perhaps so he could go back to gnawing on the bones of unwary tourists who'd fallen behind. Things decay so quickly in the damp and cold, and, as long as you didn't know where to look, there would be lots of places to put the remains.

7/18/09 - Joy at watching a friend succeed

The heat began to depart, chased by a cool breeze, as Abena got up on the stage at Prospect Park bandshell to play her set for Africa Day. She was so beautiful in her colorful clothes, and I was shocked at how the year since I'd seen her perform had changed her. Friends that I also hadn't seen in ages stood up and began to dance while this powerful, commanding stage presence took control of the crowd and rocked the party quite capably.

Later, eating carrots and hummus up on the hill above the rows of chairs that led to the stage, I embraced a friend I hadn't really spoke to in years, tears in my eyes, and told her how much I had missed her, missed all of them, missed a bit of myself, even in spite of my need to be alone, sometimes.

7/17/09 - Word (actually, Excel)

"The thing is," I said, toggling back and forth in the "page preview" screen of the spreadsheet I was working on, "is that the page preview doesn't really show you an accurate representation of the document. It always loses lines on cells at different levels of magnification, and I mean, yes, you can still print it, and it'll look fine, but this is just one of those instances where, and it's been like this since the beginning with Microsoft, they just keep heaping code on top of code so the problems that are inherent in the thing never get addressed, and this is, seriously, this is a basic interface where the user should be able to see what the document looks like!"

Jonathan looked over the cubicle wall separating us at the screen where I continued to toggle between magnification levels, watching the lines reappear and disappear on the worksheet. Finally, he looked at me and said, "Is this how I sound when I starting ranting about Macs?"

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

7/15/09 - Nice try, asshole

The big, black guy with the narrow head and the crazy eyes turns, just as I walk past, making sure to smack my hand with his hand, and I hear something fall to the ground a second later.

"Hey," he calls to me, showing me the glasses that barely fit his head and the obviously old, sharp crack right in the center of one lens. Looking as mean as he can, he says, "Can you do something to fix this?"

"Sorry, man, I don't have any money." I say, walking away.

7/14/09 - Welcome to New York!

Transportation home from the clipper ship is kindly provided by Katie's company, who have booked a double decker tour bus to convey us to Penn Station. We sit in the front on the top, high above the streets, watching the buildings and lights pass by and enjoying the cool evening air.

While stopped at a stoplight, a young kid walks by going the other direction, and, seeing us seeing him, shouts up, "Fuck you, tourists."

"Fuck you, kid, we live here!" I shout back, and Katie looks at me, wide-eyed, while her boss, sitting directly behind us, (hopefully) ignores me.

Monday, July 13, 2009

7/12/09 - on returning

We return to New York mid-day to find glorious weather, a perfect reminder of why we love this city, but New York is also instantly one of the most annoying cities in the world, with its ridiculous traffic and price-gouging cabbies and crowded sidewalks where no one seems to know how to walk without knocking somebody down.

We take a walk to enjoy the Brooklyn late-afternoon sunshine after we've had some dinner and a couple of drinks. On the corner, a man rummages in a garbage can singing quietly to himself, "If I can make it there, I'll make it anywhere...."

Katie says, "Sir, might I suggest you try your luck elsewhere."

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

7/6/09 - wedding stuff

At Katie's house in NC, her mom and she look through bridal magazines and geek out to Martha Stewart and designers whose names I don't know or remember ten minutes later. The names remind me of pictures I've seen in certain types of magazines of slightly effeminate men in scarves and tight pants, with high, cut-glass cheekbones and European tans.

Katie is leaning toward a wedding date the September after next, while her mother continues to push (gently, persuasively, with all her diplomacy and Jedi Mind Tricks) for a June wedding.

My job, of course, is to back Katie and keep my mouth shut, and if those appear to be contradictory duties, you begin to see my dilemma.

7/5/09 - travel day

Got up so EARLY to go to the airport that the sun wasn't even up. We arrived in Charlotte without incident.

Katie and her mom looked at bridal stuff online while I drifted in and out of sleep watching Ocean's Thirteen. Finally fell asleep like a stone for real at midnight, so happy to be back on East Coast time.

7/4/09 - gayest post yet

Stood in the dark outside beside my parent's pool in the rain, watching clouds part to reveal an almost full, incredibly bright moon. The rain fell softly and steadily, and I stood there and got wet. I was able to see almost as well as during the day, the moon was so bright.

Are there ever rainbows made from moonlight?

7/3/09 - cleaning out the shed

I found, amidst the detritus of childhood and youth, at least ten notebooks, probably more. Notebooks from High School (not all of which I burned, apparently), notebooks from college (drawings all over the covers and misery on every page).

Despite my love of music, despite my love of performing, apparently, writing is what I do. If it takes 10,000 hours to become expert at something, then the one thing I do is freaking write.

7/2/09 - Mars Attacks

We drive through the drab brushlands outside Phoenix heading North on I-17. The "forests" of low, stunted trees and dirt give way gradually to taller trees and stony cliffs.

Then we reach Sedona, and there is actually a line in the cliffs that we can see as we drive by where the yellowish stone of the desert changes over to the red rocks of what looks like Mars.

Bell Rock swings into view, deep red and majestic against a blue sky, and Katie turns to me, saying, "Too bad about the view."

Thursday, July 2, 2009

7/1/09 - Caitlin Rose Visits the Zoo

My niece Caitlin Rose has never been to the zoo in the 3 years she has been alive, and Katie and I agree that being there when that happens would be an incredibly fun thing. So, to beat the heat, we end up going to the zoo around nine in the morning, figuring that the animals would be more active before the sun really beats down.

Caitlin is both amazed, and occasionally bored, at one point being way more interested in the new friend she made on the playground the zoo conveniently provided than in any animals, but the magic we were hoping for finally focuses into one moment when she reaches up her tiny hand to feed a leaf of lettuce to a giraffe as it gently bends down over her.

After we've arrived home and are lying around on couches and chairs, recovering, Katie sums it up, saying, "Living vicariously through a three-year-old is exhausting!"

6/30/09 - it's a drag getting old

My dad takes me to J.C. Penny's to look for clothes for my birthday, but nothing that I put on seems to fit properly. This may be partially a function of the cut of the clothes, but it also probably has something to do with the slight spare tire of fat I seem to have recently acquired around my waist.

When he suggests going to, of all places, Costco to look for clothes, it's been an hour, and I still haven't had breakfast, I'm disappointed that my folks didn't really put any thought into my birthday, I've been bickering with my Dad about our differences in clothing taste, not to mention that I'm starting to feel kind of out of shape and old.

"Listen, Dad," I finally say, "shopping for clothing when I haven't eaten just... seems like a bad idea."

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

6/29/09 - bucket of mush

We sit in the living room of my parent's house: me, Katie, Dawn, Caitlin, and my folks, all shooting the shit after picking us up at the airport. Most of the furniture has been moved out, and my dad has done a lot of work around the place in hopes that it will sell soon, but so far, no takers.

My sister is talking about dreams, and Dad, in a rare access of self-revelation, is talking about a dream he had frequently as a kid, saying, "It's like a bucket of mush: you'd punch it hard, but the bucket would just suck it in. No matter how hard you pushed, you'd just get sucked in."

6/28/09 - still tempted

The pill bottle was lodged between the wall and the back of the dresser, and believe me, I'd known exactly where it was for a week. I also knew that we'd be out of town for two weeks, no pills, and I'd given up Kratom for over a month.

I gently lifted the bottle from its precarious perch and poured two codeine tabs into my hand, which I planned to take while Katie was in the bathroom, and which would carry me in slow, rolling half-sleep until the wee hours.

And then I put them back in the bottle, placed the bottle back where it had rested, and lay down, embarrassment and pride contending in my chest, until Katie clambered over me to her side of the bed, and we fell asleep.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

6/27/09 - Blessings

The Highline Park is packed on this mostly-sunny, unsettled day, and we are surrounded by hundreds of people, but no one seems to notice as I get on one knee and open the box with the ring to ask the question I've been waiting to ask. After the obligatory calls to the parents there's pictures on cell phones sent to friends without explanation in hopes of blowing their minds.

As we run to the subway, the clouds that have been gathering over Jersey finally begin their assault on Manhattan, but when we come above ground in Brooklyn, the sun shines bright through the pouring rain. I look East, following the path of the storm, to see a rainbow bending across the sky, and I get the feeling that we have been blessed.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

6/26/09 - celebrating a life

The DJ at the bar Katie has taken me to for my birthday plays mash-ups of Michael Jackson and, apparently, whatever else he can lay his hands to at that particular moment. We sit in a curtained booth that Katie's pull at her job has gotten for us and we cuddle and crack jokes about pedophilia and dance like assholes to Li'l Wayne tunes until the bouncers that have a sightline into our cloister laugh at us.

Earlier, we had gone to get massages at a place Katie found out about online, and it was incredibly relaxing. The woman doing my massage was kind enough not to notice the half-erection I got as she rubbed down my shoulders, because, really, it wasn't that kind of place.

Friday, June 26, 2009

6/25/09 - While you were out

"Scott, it's Warren, your super."

"Hey, Warren, what's going on?"

"I just wanted to let you know, there was a problem with the boiler and the fire department came, and while they were here they had to break down the door to your apartment to see if everything was OK."

I stood there in Katie's apartment, phone in hand, watching the news replay over and over again the stories of dead celebrities and New Jersey housewives, and said, "OK, man, I guess I'll be there in a few minutes."

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

6/24/09 - "Woman is the Nigger of the World"

The 6 train is packed, but no one sits in those seats. A red stain, like a wet butterfly, a vagina-print, smears across the powder blue bench, and everyone gives a wide berth, some pretending not to see it, some wrinkling their noses in disgust, some shaking their heads in resignation ("ah, this city, what can you do?").

Finally, as the train reaches maximum density, someone sits near it: a young woman, hard face set in annoyance, looking pointedly away from the blood smear. Her tensed shoulders and upper arms are bare, and on each bicep are dark, angry-looking bruises, almost black against her golden skin, and each about the size and rough shape of a hand.

6/23/09 - Am I using my time well?

"Superjail," I tell Katie as we talk on the phone, "seems like it'll be bad mojo, but really, it's pretty benign." I say this while the remains of the two beers I drank in quick succession during dinner finish rattling their way around my bloodstream. The cat lifts her ass as I pet her, and for once she simply allows me to stroke her fur, rather than yelling at me about whatever it is a cat thinks is important enough to yell about.

Earlier in the day, I played my guitar and sang a version of the song Bobby McGee for a play reading, before having to go back to work, where I thought about my upcoming 38th birthday, and what I've accomplished with my life so far.

Monday, June 22, 2009

6/22/09 - Everyone I know will one day die.

"I've wanted to visit Alaska for a long time," says my mom, "and your father hasn't, but I swear I did not manipulate it."

We're on the phone, and she's telling me about the gift my father received from his company at his retirement party this past week: a week-long cruise around Alaska!

"Well," I say, "you're going to want to go pretty soon, since you haven't been feeling so well; you know, travel while you still can."

"Travel while I'm still here," she says, matter-of-factly, and a premonition of grief blows through me like a cold wind.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

6/21/09 - pop culture/the auto-tune wants what it wants

After spending most of the morning listening to this, Katie and I have some friends over at her house to watch "High School Musical" 1 and 2. I have obviously become extremely sensitive to auto-tune by this point, and after a few drinks to calm my reflexive squeamishness with both the subject matter and execution of these homosexual recruitment films, I spend most of the afternoon commenting on who's been "tuned" the most (hint: it's Ashley Tisdale, though Vanessa Hudgens (whom I've seen naked, thank you interwebs) comes in a close second) and marveling at the incestuous and gay sub-plots that permeate these wholsome, "family-oriented" movies.

After one of my semi-rants, Katie looks over at me calmly and says "Hey, the auto-tune wants what it wants."

Later on, after eating ourselves stupid through most of the day, we take a walk through her neighborhood during a break in the weather, but a sudden downpour catches us out in the open sans umbrella, and we dash through streets of haughty brownstones, and the rain washes all the pop-culture away.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

6/20/09 - my inexplicable heart

I lie in bed staring at the ceiling as what little light there is on this gray, cloudy morning filters weakly through the shutters and curtains and blankets Katie has thrown over the window. Her arm drapes across my chest and even though I lay calmly, I can feel my heart beat slow, hard and strong, shaking my entire body slightly with every thud.

I think this may be an insight into myself. I am calm on the surface, placid, with a seemingly orderly mind, and people sometimes look to me for steady leadership, but beneath it all, my inexplicable heart pounds, shaking me and everyone close to me, and none of us is quite sure why.

Friday, June 19, 2009

6/19/09 - I'll say it again: we're not that different

Probably drunk, possibly insane, definitely insane, definitely belligerent, wild-eyed, short and staggering man in baseball cap and t-shirt bellows at me across the street. Maybe at me, but regardless, he stalks the crosswalk, staring at the place where I'm standing, while I do my best intermediate submissive posture (body turned half-way, no eye contact, all this made easier by my iPod) until he is about a foot away and definitely "in my space". My aggressive ignoring seems to throw him off, and I leave him flat-footed when the light changes, cross the street and continue on my way, unmolsested, heart pounding.

A few blocks further on, a dog barks at a pair of other dogs across the street, and the sound is almost identical to the tiny belligerent man in short pants shouting in the distance behind me.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

6/18/09 - This damn rain

The rain buckets down disheartening amounts of wet and gray and chilly, until the drains swell up and choke and the gutters turn into tumbling muckish streams of street silt and rainwater.

I look up at the pissing sky from beneath the broken wing of my nickel-ninety-eight, dissolves-in-water umbrella, and shout, "Stop-stop-stop-stop raining!!", startling an older man attempting to light a soggy cigarette beneath his own umbrella.

His head snaps around and I realize how I look, sopping wet and cursing at the weather. "Sorry," I say, apologetically. "It's this damn rain."

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

6/17/09 - Bad day for Rats

The rat runs past me on my way to the deli, hugging the wall and scuttling up the wheelchair ramp. I'm worried that he might have actually gone in the deli.

I come around the corner to the entrance, but the rat has thought better of his escape route, and he and I come face to face in a startling moment (me going in the deli, him coming out), only for him to run back in.

The counterman and I find him stuck to a glue trap under the shelf with the potato chips, and he squeaks when I say to the counterman, "Hey, man, whatever you're gonna do, do it fast."

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

6/16/09 - Danke, Dirty Projectors

Tried (not very hard) to find the new Dirty Projectors album, Bitte Orca on a torrent, but finally gave up and just bought the damn thing on iTunes (only the second album I've ever purchased on iTunes, the first being Earl Greyhound's Soft Targets). The whole world seemed to provide a review of this strange, atonal, dissonantly beautiful music as I listened to it on my walk to the train this morning.

A small dog taking a shit finished up as I was walking by and trotted over to say hello to me, with a beatific smile on his little doggie face.

As I neared the station, a man walking a full pack of dogs paused to let a man pet them, while one of the dogs looked up into the sky, grinning, wagging his entire back-end.

6/14/09 - Churchill called it his "Black Dog"

Dark night. Spent most it laying on my bed, trying to think of an unambiguous reason to do anything. Read an article that discussed why it was a bad idea to anticipate negative outcomes, but the darkness in my head plays tricks on me, telling me no one loves, no one cares, saying I've already failed.

In fact, it was Katie that lifted me from my funk, or the thought of her, since I couldn't stand having her think less of me because I had done nothing, because I'd let myself go.

I shook my head, like a dog shakes off water, and got to work.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

6/11/09 - This is NOT an assassination threat, OK? Lighten up.

Exhausted, I sit at the computer and type in the words that I promised myself I would type. A few people read them, and in a couple years, I'll be able to look back and see them and think, "Hey, you know, I remember that day, with my cat yelling in the background, the day that I came in carrying my bike and there was this roach in the middle of the floor, and I'm willing to bet said cat had eaten the legs off the thing."

Katie and I were out of sorts tonight, what with her roommates leaving their shit all over the kitchen and whatnot (a thing which I, too, have been guilty of at her place, and which I am trying to be better about), but the Chinese food we had was good, and we almost always manage to amuse each other. We were watching an ad for Mayor Bloomberg and Katie says, "Bloomberg's gonna be mayor for life and we're gonna crown him like Caesar and somebody's gonna have to stab him on the 6 train to get him to leave."

6/10/09 - Exemplary Moments in Racial Harmony

I'm taking the garbage out before riding my bike over to see Katie tonight when, from behind me, a smoky voice says menacingly, "I got you now."

I spin around, heart pounding, but it's only Mary, the lady who lives upstairs from me.

Seeing my terrified expression, she laughs, a throaty, raspy chuckle, that almost turns into a cough.

Without thinking, I blurt out, "Oh my God, Mary, you really spooked me!"

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

6/8/09 Braid

"You have to try this awesome new game," I say to Jonathan, my cubemate (he refers to me in all correspondence with his friends as "my straight friend", which is both hilarious and somewhat touching (no, not that kind of touching. Pervert)).

He takes my frequently shifting enthusiasms with about the exact amount of salt they deserve (i.e. plus/minus one grain), but he does tend to listen when I talk about gaming, because I've turned him onto some decent stuff (Lego Star Wars), so he rolls his eyes a little, but turns to listen politely.

"No," I say, "it's really awesome, because it's like a side-scroller, like Mario Brothers or whatever with time-warping, but instead of just trying to rescue the princess, you're collecting clues to figure out why she left you, and it's really sad!"

"Oh," he says dryly, "so it's like most heterosexual relationships."

Sunday, June 7, 2009

6/7/09 - New York is a Zoo (and she did stop)

On the subway to the zoo, the Asian man opposite us on the bench speaks quietly to the child clinging to his neck. As he tries to put her in her carriage, strapping her in and clipping the clips in the fashion they have now, she begins to cry and negate him in a language I don't know.

At first she's just whiny, a typical tantrum, and her parents rightly ignore it, but as the trip progresses, over the course of 45 minutes or so, she works herself up into a real fit, crying hysterically until she's completely out of control.

As we pull up to the stop for the zoo, and she and her family prepare to get off the train (as we are doing, as well) to go to the zoo on this most beautiful of days, Katie leans over to me and whispers, "Guarantee she stops crying as soon as we get off the train."

6/6/09 - Circle around the park

Rode about five and a half miles around Prospect Park in the middle of the afternoon. There wasn't anything particularly interesting about the day.

The previous evening, I was at a friend's cabaret performance, and she sang the song "Moonfall" which got me to thinking. The results of that thinking can be found here.

Friday, June 5, 2009

6/5/09 - Short attention

I saw two dwarfs today.

One was running for a train in a t-shirt and canvas sneakers, the other walking down the street in the rain, his small face (so similar to that of other little people I have seen, on TV and the like) watchful as he warily eyed the unsettled sky.

Sometimes when you hear an unusual word for the first time, you'll hear it again very soon afterwards, as though your ear were searching for it, and call it coincidence or selective attention or synchronicity (which is really just a coincidence freighted with an extra load of meaning).

Well this was nothing like that.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

6/4/09 - Some Days

Some days, the subways are full of nothing but pretty girls. The world seems to shine with them, like a new penny face up on the ground, promising that today, glorious day, you walk in grace and can do no wrong. You feel blessed just to travel in their midst, and beautiful in their reflected glow.

And some days, not: the beauties aren’t there, and everyone seems hard-faced and closed, lost in thought, tired, no one shines; the penny is face-down in the muck at the bottom of the stairs, the Lincoln Memorial like bars, and you keep your head down, too, and just try to make it through the day.

6/3/09 - Dropped

The rain falls lightly, but stings my face as I pick up speed. The route I bike to Katie’s apartment is thick with riders, despite the wet, and every one of them seems determined to “drop” me (that is, to pass me, kicking up wet road muck as they go).

I balance with one foot touching the ground at a stoplight, and yet another rider pulls up beside me, grinning, and says, “Nice weather, huh?”

“Well,” I say, “it’ll do until the real good weather shows, right?” and the light turns green, and this guy, too, drops me.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

6/2/09 - Seriously, it's freaking me out.

"Hey, Warren," I say to the short, round-faced, balding black man hanging out in front of my building. "Got a second?"

In my apartment, I show him the bulging boil of white paint hanging pendulously over my sink where the water from the apartment above has almost, but not quite, eaten through the ceiling of my bathroom.

"Yeah," he says, "those people upstairs moved about two weeks ago, but Mr. Zimmer won't even let me fix the hole in my ceiling that the leak made, and I'm the super!"

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

6/1/09 - this happens every once in a while

"Scott, please remind Dr. [redacted] that we need his outline for the training as soon as possible."

"Sure, I'll ask him about that right away."

I check my inbox, and due to a lazy streak I have been indulging the shit out of lately, I have not passed on the email that said Dr. sent me almost two weeks ago with exactly that information.

"Oh, man," I lie, "I thought sure he cc'd you on that!"

Sunday, May 31, 2009

5/31/09 - Wyckoff part 2

We race to get to the Wyckoff House for the 3 PM tour, arriving with only 2 minutes to spare.  As we finish locking our bikes to the fence that surrounds the lot on which the wooden shack stands, a pleasant looking man decends from the mobile home/office that takes up the whole western side of the place.  He stands between plots of the small garden with a bland, curious smile on his face, as if he thinks we might have wandered in here by mistake.  

Even though it later turns out that we are the only people to visit this historical site all weekend, we urgently inquire as to whether or not we're on time for the tour, and the caretaker's eyes light up at our enthusiasm.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

5/30/09 - Everything must Go!

The sun, against all expectations, has come out to play today, and everyone seems to be out to greet it, wandering the streets in shorts and flip-flops, staring at all the stoop sales that have sprung up throughout Katie's neighborhood. It seems that the entire world has decided to sell off whatever they can this weekend, and we have quite the time negotiating the sidewalks, full as they are of blankets laid out with what will soon be someone else's treasures, but which, for the moment, are just somebody's trash with tags on it.

Katie and I sit on a bench and watch the dogs and their owners, babies and their parents, kids in sneakers and the invincible arrogance of youth jostling around in hysterical packs, and Katie talks about the winter turning into spring.

We've spent the winter, perhaps the last year, perhaps the last decade or so, accumulating poisons, fear, doubt, armor, anger, stuff we thought we needed but which now just holds us back and clutters our hearts and homes, and perhaps it's time to get rid of it, sell it on the street, bring it to the light, put it out with tomorrow's trash.

5/28/09 - In Central Europe, Joke Gets YOU

The two of them are clearly on a date: he is small, neat, impeccably dressed in a sharply starched (but fashionable) striped button-down shirt, his hair (receding though it may be) is cut close to his scalp, but styled and exactly so, his gold-framed glasses squarish but tasteful, his face is slightly pinched and his chin pointy, and his eyes cool and appraising, but not unkind. She is fuller, but not overweight, pretty, with full lips, big smile, brown eyes warm and intelligent, straight dark-brown hair sleek in a mid-length fashionable cut, but she doesn't look like she's trying terribly hard.

He speaks seriously to her something I can't quite catch in what sounds like a central European accent, until finally he finishes with, "...and it gets you."

He watches her, expressionless, as she considers this, her face questioning, until finally she breaks into her broad grin, and he smiles slightly, gratified that she understood his dry humor.

Friday, May 29, 2009

5/28/09 - Just Biking in the Rain (wham! wham!)

I ride home from Katie's in the rain, around 11:30 PM. It's less rain, and more a low hanging cloud that covers everything in moist and loggy. I barrel through it, getting increasingly wet, and my glasses, which I now wear more often due to an eye infection earlier this year, throw halos around all the streetlights and approaching car's headlights. I look over the tops of my glasses, and ride blind, but clear, switching back to the en-dewed lenses when I approach intersections, until I make it home, wet, breathing hard, alive.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

5/27/09 - Phhhhbtt!

The baby on the train is bored.  Nothing her mother can do is appealing, and she has gone through every toy, including the plastic Dora the Explorer doll, the squeaky hammer, the bubble gun, and the cell phone (which, after chewing on, she proceeded to push all the buttons on and dialed, I think, Ireland).  Katie and I catch the baby's eyes just as she is about to have an aneurysm and start really freaking out, and we begin making faces and sticking our tongues out.  The baby does what babies do, and begins to stick her tongue out, and just like that we've altered the photos her family will cherish for years to come.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

5/26/09 - Can't Make It

A baby cries on the train, a hoarse, angry cry, full of static. A woman's phone goes off and, for a moment, the ringtone is indistinguishable from the baby's coughing wail before it evolves into the trebly barking beats and synthesized sirens of the latest hip-hop. It breaks off in mid-cack-pop, cack-cack-POP as she answers it.

"Yeah, can't make it," she says.

5/25/09 - Water Taxi Washing Machine

The Water Taxi to Ikea sails us out into Buttermilk Bay and around the industrial ports and loading docks of Red Hook. Katie and Kevin and I stand on the upper deck, beneath a glorious, beaming sun, and watch the light dapple off the water in glinting sheets. The wind blows my uncut-in-far-too-long hair and whips it into my face, until, irritated, I sit back down and watch two people I dearly love laugh and talk as they lean on the rail. Kevin and I have spent the day walking though the concrete and too bright streets of downtown, but the wind and the beauty of the day, the smell of water and salt from the sea just a few miles away, erases the city and leaves us clean and joyful and grateful to be alive.

Monday, May 25, 2009

5/24/09 - Memento Divino

The Cathedral of St. John the Divine rises above us, massive and elaborate, every inch of the facade covered with visions of the apocalypse and a multitude of saints. Where other cathedrals may soar and yearn to the divine, this one seems to want to pull the divine down into it with it's sheer gravity, as though a sizable enough gravity-well was all that was needed to bring down the Godhead to our plane.

We wander through the incredible space, past pillars thick as redwoods and probably taller, past dozens of side chapels, each with their own light (this one multicolored and lush, that one all washed out in white and gold), when suddenly the chorus begins to practice for the evensong service. Kevin and I pause to listen for a while as they start and stop through various songs, their voices rising and swelling until the entire space is filled with sound, and Kevin says, "I think I like this better; when they stop you only get little bursts of divinity, and anything more would be too much."

Sunday, May 24, 2009

5/23/09 - Wycoff when you can sneeze?

The Wycoff Farmhouse was built in the 1600's, and is one of the oldest (if not THE oldest) structures in New York. It lies in a non-descript block in Brooklyn, surrounded by a small plot of green grass and what looks like a raised garden (heavy with flowers after this wet spring), all of which is in turn surrounded by a high wrought iron fence. When I rode to see it yesterday, I rolled right past, as it was so out of context with the rest of the block (a garage on one side, a ConEd substation across the street). I almost couldn't reconcile it with the garbage, the traffic, the two guys getting under a car with a jack, and if I hadn't known it was there, I might have missed it.

Friday, May 22, 2009

5/22/09 - They Will Soon Forget How Easy it Was

The kids playing in the field behind the Stone House in the Heights of Guam (see here for more info on that) are like dogs in the dog run. The two little boys and three little girls have found fluorescent orange tape that was used to rope off the grass while it was growing this spring, and they are playing tug-of-war and trailing it behind them in streamers of neon as they run, squealing, through the gradually falling dusk.

At first the boys and girls, who are from different families, circle around each other, the two brothers playing with each other, and the girls playing with the girls, until gradually the two groups fall in together, self-conscious for only a moment. One of the girls looks earnestly at one of the boys, both of them holding armfuls of bright orange, and says, "Do you want to play with us?"

Thursday, May 21, 2009

5/21/09 - Defeated, For Now

We stand in line at the DMV, waiting to get our numbers so that we can stand in yet other lines and pay obeisance at the various stations of the cross of this fine bureaucracy. This is the "Express" DMV, so we make our way up to the front relatively quickly, after I've filled out, and torn up, two stabs at the form because of various misreadings of the directions.

Lady behind the counter looks at us with almost no interest at all after we show her our papers and forms and sigils, and recite our magic formulas and ritual politenesses, until finally she cuts us short. "You," she says, pointing at Katie, "need your birth certificate, and you," pointing now with a long finger nail at me, "need your Social Security card," which things, of course, we do not have.

5/20/09 - We Are An Ingenious Species

The guy in Trader Joe's is one of those slightly embarrassing fellows that is just a little too chummy with the cashiers. I'm sure I'm one of those types of guys, myself, on occasion. He claims he's discovered a way of carrying two heavy grocery bags without "injuring his delicate hands" (his words, not mine).

As a couple of cashiers and I watch, he ties the handles of the bags together with another two bags, and with a heave proceeds to drape the entire unwieldy contraption over his shoulder, whereupon he mock bows slightly, acknowledging our (genuine) applause.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

5/19/09 - Easy, Killer (I'm just a little dog on a big ol' leash)

The threat of violence still seems to hang over the city like a gleam on a knife that you see out of the corner of your eye - turn to look at it straight on, and it's gone.

Does that seem overly dramatic? How else to explain, after over ten years of life in the city, that now I feel aggressive, overamped, angry at nothing, irritable, seeing slights where once I would have seen nothing at all.

A man walks his very small dog with a thick chrome-plated chain for a leash, and I say, "Thank God you've got him on that chain; no telling what he'd do otherwise," and thankfully, the man walking the dog laughs, too.

Monday, May 18, 2009

5/18/09 - My Feral Girlfriend Sustained No Injuries

Katie is walking down the stairs at the train station (this is before I meet her at my stop), and a girl is walking up the wrong side, and this girl says "watch where you're fucking going," and proceeds to get in Katie's face. Katie throws an elbow and continues on her way, followed by a now enraged and muttering girl. Katie turns around to find said girl brandishing a, and I quote, "puny" knife. Katie smiles and says, "I know two things: I know you're a cunt, and I know you're gonna lose."

Sunday, May 17, 2009

5/17/09 - I'm Everything You Ever Were Afraid Of

At the F Station in Park Slope on our way to the Aquarium in Coney Island, Katie and I wander along the platform waiting for the train. Suddenly she spots something at the other end of the station. "It, it, it, it, it," she says, pointing, eyes wide, and I follow her gaze, but don't see what she's pointing at.

She drags me down the platform, and after some discussion with a few folks, we spot it: a single red balloon, bobbing in the invisible currents of air over the train tracks, floating down the tunnel into the darkness and, presumably, the Deadlights.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

5/16/09 - If I weren't so emo, I might accidentally kick somebody's ass

While watching a fight between two adversaries on the TV show Deadwood, I am once again reminded of the violence that only in the last few years has become a part of my mental landscape. I find myself with a heart full of bloodlust, imagining foes, altercations, assaults, wanting to fight, carrying around a pen knife, wondering if today on the way home from the train I will need to use it on someone.

This is new for me, but I suppose I have always had it. It explains my former depressions, my black moods and despondency, which I thankfully have much less of, but which must have been nothing more than an already extant violence in my soul, which I formerly turned inward because I could not accept that it was part of my "good boy" personality.

Friday, May 15, 2009

5/15/09 - I talk too much (again)

Last night at the opening meeting for the project I'm currently working on Shay remarked that I was actually the tallest person there. While not an unusual situation (I'm over six foot three), I once again began obsessing out loud about how much weight I feel I've gained in the past 6 months, as if this were somehow relevant to the discussion. The other very tall fellow in the room is rather slim, much as I was a couple years back, and was kind enough to say that it must be muscle mass from my riding my bike everywhere.

And once again, I am obsessing in public about the state of my weight, talking too much, and being a bit of an embarrassment.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

5/14/09 - Until Blogger Gets Its Shit Together

I used to be at FourEveryDay.blogspot.com, but I forgot my password and the workings of Blogger are capricious and arbitrary, so I'll be here for the time being.

My usual modus operandi is to start with a brief word about the weather (grey and forboding, as it has been on and off for the past several weeks), and, from there, segue into some mystical shit (say, a meandering bit about how the darkness is giving way to light and the sunshine will be here soon, and isn't it just like our souls as we work our way towards the stripping away of all the muck and murk that we put there) - but you know, today, I say "fuck it." I'm really not in the mood to be upbeat.

It's not that I'm particularly down right now, either, I'm just really not feeling like being all deep and everything, and so the rain that came down this morning must be, as it always is, not really a symbol for anything, but only and completely itself.