Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Sympathy

"Why does she just bark like that?" our friend John asks as the dog, wound up once again, stands and barks her high, piercing bark into the corner of the room.

"Well, imagine this," I say ("I'm imagining," he replies, closing his eyes). "You're in a nightmare where you don't know where you are, or what you're doing there, and things like doors or chairs or whatever, even those look wrong, and you can't remember what they're for, and the people there, they clearly mean well, but they can't help you, and you feel like something's about to sneak up on you all the time."

"Well, now I just feel bad," he says, leaning down to gently stroke her fur, and she flinches.
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One year ago: Shout Out to My Dead Cat Honey - the Angriest Cat in the World
Two years ago: Growing Up
Three years ago: Fashion
Four years ago: I Spoiled It

Monday, February 27, 2017

Moving Day

The thing I like best about moving into the new office is the air of controlled chaos that permeates the workplace: boxes everywhere, people milling about, trying to find the water-cooler or the microwave, or their cubicle, trying to find out where their work buddies are sitting.

After temping for most of my worklife, I seem to have settled in pretty well to this job, and the move has given me a chance to set up my desk the way I want, which I've never really done before.

People are chatting amiably and unpacking, settling into a new space with the fresh eyes that come with strange surroundings. One of my co-workers comes around the corner with a big smile on her face and says, "It's like everyone was given a gift!"
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One year ago: Pagans
Two years ago: That Turned Dark Rather Quickly
Three years ago: Extremes
Four years ago: Hypochondria



Sunday, February 26, 2017

Vindicated

Biking down Vanderbilt, I'm forced to swerve and whistle angrily at the SUV with Jersey plates that veers into my lane, cutting me off. I avoid an accident, but I follow them to the next light and peer into their vehicle with a disapproving expression and head shake as I pass them.

At the next light, a different car pulls up next to me and rolls down its window. I'm expecting a telling off, but instead, the woman in the passenger seat says, "That was awesome!" and I give a raised fist in salute to their laughter and roll away.
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One year ago: Objection: Leading the Witness
Two years ago: Fail Better
Three years ago: Maternal Wisdom
Four years ago: You Spend a Third of Your Life In Bed
Five years ago:

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Floating

After a nice warm shower, I open up the door in the wall that looks like it might open into an abattoir refrigerator, and step down into the warm pastel glow of the isolation tank. Colored lights simulating stars twinkle gently in the ceiling above as I lay back in the body-temperature water and begin to float, weightless, until I reach up, hit the switch, and plunge into darkness.

About an hour later, I'm sitting in the lobby sipping tea, calm and empty, like I've been scrubbed inside, with a delicate humming sound where all my busy, noisy thoughts used to be.

A woman, her face pale and stricken, comes out of the back rooms where the tanks are, and approaches the appointment desk at the front, but when she's asked why she didn't finish her session, all she can say is, in a shaky voice, "It just isn't for me." 
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One year ago today: First Impressions
Two years ago today: Looks at Books
Three years ago today: The Homestead Inside
Four years ago today: Don't Look Now, But I Think We're Being Followed

Friday, February 24, 2017

Remora

I ride my bike back from the flea market, and the traffic down 4th Avenue in Brooklyn flows around me like a school of sharks intent on some other prey. They might get me, but it would only be an incidental kill.

Still, I feel strong, and brave, and skillful, masterful in my ability to stay alive amidst so much swift, murderous steel and indifference. 

Then a guy on a skateboard, sweatshirt and rolled up pants, no helmet, lit cigarette in one hand, smoothly glides past me on the downhill towards Union, sailing through traffic as if he belonged there, no more or less a part of it than the remorseless cars, effortless. 
-----------------------
One year ago today: Alone Together
Three years ago today: Dinner and a Show
Four years ago today: Not that different

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Encouragement

After yesterday's pity party/memento mori, I find myself thinking a lot about the book I wrote, half-wrought, crippled thing though it may be. A lot of it takes place in Central Park and Prospect Park, which are, as far as I'm concerned, the secret heart of the city, its true center, out of which all the magic that makes New York what it is flows, and as I was writing it several years ago, many charming synchronicities encouraged me on my way.

So it shouldn't surprise me at all when, in my boss's office, as we prepare to move our company to another floor during a renovation, she points to a long photograph hanging on one wall and says, "I don't really want to cart it around, so, do you want it?"

It's a picture, almost five feet tall, of Central Park, and of course I take it.
-------------------
One year ago today: The New Technique
Two years ago today: Drunk and Cold
Three years ago today: Worst Cabbie Yet
Four years ago today: Is that a good enough answer for you?

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Self Talk

Down at the end of the street, the sun sets behind leafless trees in crimson and flame. I wonder how many sunsets a person gets over a lifetime - twenty thousand, if they live a good long time? - and how many I might have left.

"And how's that novel coming, the one you rewrote twice and then abandoned?" I think to myself, stepping off the curb to cross the street toward home. "Kinda lame to write about the days you have left instead of filling them with something interesting."
--------------------
One year ago today: She Learned it From Me?
Two years ago today: I'm No Cary Grant
Four years ago today: I don't actually wear cologne
Six years ago today: 2/22/11 Barbaric Meo-awp
Nine years ago today: 2-22-08 Wii Would Like to Play (with your balls)

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

General vs. Specific

The woman seated in front of me on the train pulls out her phone to check it, and on the lock screen is a close up of a single rose on a pale green background. The rose disappears as she punches in her code, and I wonder about her: what kind of woman is she, inside her head, and how does she see herself, and how is that expressed in her pretty, but slightly old-fashioned, aesthetic?

I think about when I was younger, when I used to play music because it was the only way I felt I could get out of my head, breach the loneliness I lived with pretty much all the time - I wanted to merge with everyone and feel what they felt, make them feel what I felt.

As I'm getting off the train, I see someone I sort of know, but I slow down a little until he's walking ahead of me, half-a-block or so in front, and we both walk in the same direction toward home separately, so I don't have to speak to him.
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One year ago today: Becoming Something Beautiful
Two years ago today: Another Long Walk Through Winter
Three years ago today: Spite
Four years ago today: She said it would be cold
Nine years ago today: 2-21-08 This Old, Cold World


Monday, February 20, 2017

Winter Takes a Holiday

The sun has gone behind the buildings, but the sky above is still a lovely spring blue as we jump off our bikes, lock them up, and walk to the bakery where we plan to buy nicer, homemade versions of Twinkies and Ding Dongs. When we get to the door, though, we're disappointed to see the sign: "Closed Mondays."

We're a little upset, but very little can spoil a day riding bikes around Brooklyn. Even so, we can tell winter is still thinking about us when the wind picks up a little, and we zip up our jackets a little more and rush to get our bikes unlocked and get moving again, out of the shade, into the sun.
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One year ago today: Like This
Two years ago today: Unfair
Three years ago today: Mysophobia is Occasional Common Sense
Four years ago today: Stand Clear

Trade Off

Walking by an empty playground at night, talking about some acquaintances we don't particularly care for who are better travelled than we are.

"I'm so glad I don't get jealous anymore," I say.

"You could travel like them," Katie says. "But you'd also have to live the rest of their lives, too."
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One year ago today: Willful Blindness
Three years ago today: It Means Something
Four years ago today: Too Soon
Nine years ago today: 2-19-08 What's Going On Here?

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Forgotten

"That should be your Four Each Day," our friend Echo says, laughing.

"No," I reply, my face all serious. "But this probably will be," I add.

(The problem is, I don't remember what we were talking about.)
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One year ago today: Relief
Three years ago today: Not All That Great a Door, Really, Either
Four years ago today: Be Willing to be Boring

Saturday, February 18, 2017

We've Thought This Through

"I think we'd be pretty good in a purge," I say, while the mayhem continues on screen.

"Oh, totally," Katie replies without looking up from her phone. "That would be what the boiling oil on the stove would be for."

"And the shopping carts in the stair well," I add.
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One year ago today: What's Good for Me
Two years ago today: Another Perspective on a Night at the Museum
Three years ago today: Everyone Should Be So Lucky
Four years ago today: Maybe that's it.
Nine years ago today: 2-17-08 A Disturbing New Trend in Women's Shoes

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Little Brothers Never Change

"First when there's nuthin'...," I sing at my desk, my voice rich and ridiculous, "but a slooooow, glowing dream...."

But Beverly, my cubemate, knows this game, knows I'm trying to get a song stuck in her head. "Stop it," she says sharply, without even looking up from her computer.

"You don't like Irene Cara?" I ask innocently.
--------------
One year ago today: Willful
Two years ago today: Another Dog Post
Three years ago today: The Kid Ran Into Something, and it Wasn't Just the Cold
Four years ago today: Sufficiently Advanced Technology is Indistinguishable
Six years ago today: 2/16/11 bathroom humor
Nine years ago today: 2-16-08 A Cry for Attention

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

That Old Chestnut

The guys who work in the shop downstairs are bringing all of Katie's boxes - boxes for her business, full of dozens of glass containers - into the foyer of the apartment building for me to carry upstairs. 

"What's this word, 'frog-isle?'" Mario says, feigning irritation.

"It's pronounced 'fra-JEEL-ay,'" I explain. "It means 'a prestigious award.'"
---------------
One year ago today: The Ravages of Time
Two years ago today: Dog Pee
Three years ago today: The Vagaries of Memory


Tuesday, February 14, 2017

I Am Known

"I knew you weren't going to call Houston to check lost and found for your Kindle," Katie says with a loving smile as she hands me my Valentine's Day gift: a new Kindle!

"I called them!" I protest, laughing.

"No you didn't," she says. "You would have made it your Four Each Day."
------------------------
One year ago today: Contrast
Two years ago today: The Scientist Considers His Divorce
Four years ago today: Drink the Undrinkable Drink
Six years ago today: 2/14/11 no good reason
Nine years ago today: 2-14-08 There is Nowhere That Does Not See You


Monday, February 13, 2017

Expectation of Privacy

He's scrolling through his phone while I stand above. The train is packed in tight, so everybody's all up in each other's business.

I'm not sure if he's on Instagram or Tumblr or something, but every few pictures at first, and then every other picture on his phone, is of a scantily-clad women, her hair demurely hanging over her breasts, or a well placed heart-shaped pastie over one nipple.

He keeps flipping through the photos until, out of the corner of his eye, he notices me watching him and his feed of naked ladies with great interest, but when he looks up, I've looked elsewhere, and he turns off his phone and hastily shoves it in his jacket pocket, turning red in the face as he does so.
-------------------
One year ago today: Prescient
Three years ago today: Time Travel
Four years ago today: Revolving Door
Nine years ago today: 2-13-08 February in a Nutshell

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Morning Session

My feet are relaxing, my feet are relaxing, my feet are relaxed, and so on, working my way up my body through my legs, my hips, my guts, my chest, all the way to the top of my head as I lay on my yoga mat. My body, whether as a result of too much sleep, or the two margaritas I had last night that kicked like a pair of mules, appears in my mind's eye like a poorly drawn cartoon: all thick, wavy, unstable lines, parts phasing in and out of existence.

I breathe, I stretch, pushing and pulling each part, each muscle group, smoothing out the chunky, awkward lines of flesh and thought until the flickering boundaries of me come back in sync, and I am whole again. By the end of an hour-and-a-half, the cartoon has been replaced by an oil painting, the brush strokes disguised, the edges of me sanded down to soft lines and a clear, unwavering gaze (for now).
-------------
One year ago today: Do You Like PiƱa Coladas?
Two years ago today: After a Fashion
Three years ago today: We Are Conspicuous at the Comedy Show
Four years ago today: The solution
Nine years ago today: 2-12-08 My Lungs are a Swamp

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Not Interested

We're standing outside the restaurant on the sidewalk, watching through the window, as it all goes down. The server approaches the table with her head down, no eye contact, to talk to the guy and his date who are taking up a six-top all by themselves. We're five, they just sat down, and there's a perfectly good table waiting for them if they let us have their spot, and she's simply asking if they'd be willing to move.

The guy clearly refuses, and Dan, whose birthday we're celebrating, says, "Did he just do this," making a cutting motion across his throat, "to tell her no way?"
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One year ago today: Overexplaining
Two years ago today: The REAL 50 Shades
Three years ago today: Meeting, The Other
Four years ago today In New York City, We Are Not Overly Solicitous of One Another's Pain
Nine years ago today: 2-11-08 Never Complain, Never Explain

Not Complaining

"Hey, uh, Scott?" our houseguest Jeff says to me in the kitchen. "Did you know that the back of your fridge freezes things?"

"Oh, yeah, totally." I say, continuing to chop onions and tomatoes for dinner.

"Yeah, I pulled out something, I think it was a beer, and it was like drinking a beer slushie," he says with obvious pleasure.
---------------------------
One year ago today: Bored
Two year ago today: Bass-awkwards
Three years ago today: I've Got the Look (How Do I Get Rid of It?)

Thursday, February 9, 2017

The Price of Inattention

I watch half of a TV show I don't like before I get bored and turn it off. My phone is in the kitchen, so I miss the text from my neighbors inviting me to join them in the park for night sledding.

I can see it: the moon, almost full, in a sky scoured clean by the day's snowstorm, the bite of cold wind, turning my eyeballs to crystal.

I lay in bed, a little uncomfortably warm, exhausted from a day of work, and read some poetry, dreaming of moonlight glittering on snow.
-----------------
One year ago today: Whatcha Thinking?
Two years ago today: Too Many Teeth
Three years ago today: The Longest Joke Ends When You Die

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

She Didn't Even Know He Was Gone

The roister of teenagers rolls down the sidewalk, shoving out arms and legs gesticulating in wild enthusiasm and barking sharp stabs of laughter in a cloud of hormones and objectless sexuality. Two of the kids look like athletes - long shorts and high tops, hoodies and unconscious grace - and both of them carry identical black gym bags covered in red glitter on the tops and handles, which confuses me a little (dancers, maybe? or a really flamboyant basketball team?).

After their chaotic little parade passes us by, sweeping along the sidewalk and across the street, in their wake I find a little boy standing beside a tree, looking at me with one hand raised slightly, and a wide eyed, mischievous grin that also reads as a little scared. He and I lock eyes for a few suspended, awkward moments, until he slowly backs away and then breaks into a run, catching up to his mother halfway down the block.
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One year ago today: You've Been Warned
Two years ago today: FaceTime Isn't For the Weak
Three years ago today: You Kiss Your Toddler With That Mouth?

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Reversal: Earth/Sky

The fog swirls around us as the dog beelines for her favorite tree. The moon stares down from right overhead, misty-eyed.

A dim couple crosses the street in the hazy glow of the stoplight, their conversation clouding into speech bubbles that hang in the air and dissipate after the speakers have passed.

The dog, finished, swings around to head home, while somewhere above, wind chimes on a fire-escape ring like a buoy in a dark ocean of sky.
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One year ago today: She Knew
Two years ago today: What Else Am I Gonna Do?
Three years ago today: Snow Walk
Nine years ago today: 2-07-08 Of Course

Monday, February 6, 2017

Danny Pt. 2

"So Danny comes around the corner, and he says, 'Can I borrow your phone?'" I'm really warming up to my story, now.

"So I get the number from him, dial it, and it's Pasquale, the guy he was talking about, like, he really exists!"

"They talk for a minute, Danny's complaining about having to walk ten blocks down to the cafe to meet Pasquale, and finally Danny gives me my phone back and just walks away leaving the skis and the blueberry lavender , saying, 'I'll see you when I get home.'"

"You're right, that sounds like it was the most interesting thing that happened to you this weekend," my friend replies, laughing.
--------------
One year ago today: Expertise
Two years ago today: Poor Workman Blames His Tools
Three years ago today: Low Blood Sugar Blues
Nine years ago today: 2-6-08 a dream of divine love

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Meeting Danny

The entire stairwell smells of smoke, and when I get to the vestibule of our apartment building, the dog and I see the source: a thin, bald, stubbled man in an old parka, dress pants, and jazz shoes sits on the stoop, smoking the remnant of what looks like his third swisher sweet and sucking down a Monster energy drink. Next to the butts of his cigars lie a one-hitter that looks like a cigarette, a thin, tightly-wrapped joint, a jar of blueberry-lavender preserves, and an old set of skis.

He sees me seeing him through the glass door of the building, and begins to gather up his his things, but something about the look of me, maybe, or the dog, changes his mind, and he smiles at me like he's recognizing an old friend.

"Hey," he says, sticking out his fist for a bump as I come out with the dog, "I'm Danny."
-----------------------------
One year ago today: Expertise
Two years ago today: Biometric Timebomb
Three years ago today: Thankless Work

Manipulation

"My brother hadn't spoken to Dad for over a year," says my dad over video chat, "so I sent him a telegram saying, 'Please disregard first telegram.'"

"His wife got him out of a Patriots game, and he called us," he continues. "Then I just said, 'Here's your dad."

When I compliment him on his scheme, he grins proudly, adding, "I read it in Reader's Digest."
---------------------------------
One year ago today: Subway Slashings
Two years ago today: Sounds the Same
Six years ago today: 2/4/11 The smell test
Nine years ago today: 2/4/08 Eli Manning is pretty cool, yeah

Friday, February 3, 2017

Alarmed

My concentration, never the best first thing in the morning, is further strained when the quiet of my pre-dawn yoga is split by a car alarm going off right in front of our building. It eventually stops on its own, but you know that if it goes off once without someone actively disarming it, it's going to go off again.

Before it does though, I hear voices outside arguing, and I recognize one of them as the voice of the beggar that hangs out on this block most days, yelling, demanding, "Listen, you gotta help me out, right now!"

His aggression worries me (is he mugging somebody? in front of my building?), and I rouse myself from the mat and go to the window, thinking maybe to lean out, shout, tell him to leave, but when I look down to the street below, I see him all bundled up against the cold, standing in the street on the driver's side of a yellow taxi, leaning down, and his voice takes on a pleading tone as he says to the cabbie, "You gotta help me, I need five dollars, give me the money, please."
------------------
One year ago today (also featuring the beggar on our block): Why Downtown?
Two years ago today: Full Moon
Three years ago today: Timor Mortis Conturbat Me
Six years ago today: 2/3/11 what goes around comes around
Nine years ago today: 2-3-08 Accordian sweetness

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Solidarity

The bodega, normally open all hours, is closed when I arrive home from work, but several people are gathered out in front of it, looking at some notices someone has taped to the metal shutters.

I lead the dog around the block in an effort to wear her out so she'll sleep well (old dogs, like people, tend to sleep poorly, and wander the halls at all hours, troubling the ghosts, startling the shadows, and keeping everyone else awake), and walk her by the bodega to see what's up. A woman stands in front, holding a sharpie, while several others sign pieces of paper taped to the storefront that say, "WE SUPPORT YOU."

"Care to show your support for the bodega owners closing in response to Trump's immigration ban?" the woman with the sharpie asks.
---------------------------
One year ago today: Priorities
Two years ago today: They Can Smell it On You


Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Genetics

"Well, you are much younger than me," says the Chinese woman I work with, when I tell her I've only really lived two places in my whole life.

"Oh, I'm not sure about that," I say. "I won't make you guess: I'm 45."

"Oh, you must have asian genes," she says admiringly.
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One year ago today: Mundane Mindfulness
Two years ago today: Football is Manly
Three years ago today: Sometimes These Things Practically Write Themselves