Tuesday, March 29, 2005

I turned into the kitchen and gazed upon the mountain of dishes I'd be doing in a few hours, most likely with my bath towel unfastening around my waist and the kids in the building across the way, clamoring at their cafeteria tables. Then I entered the bathroom and lifted the toilet seat to reveal its paint-peeled underside.

It rained ropes all day long and by the time I left work at a quarter past nine the sidewalk along Canal had receded under puddles ankle-deep and cold.

Mom has some kind of lump under her arm, or shoulder. Unbeknownst.

"Will you go to the doctor? Mom?" I asked.

"I won't go until after Lis's wedding. I don't want them taking me, you know, to the hospital and everything. Chemotherapy, you know. All that. Until after the wedding."

"Mom. That's seven months away. Lis's wedding. If it's nothing, you leave, half an hour, you leave the doctor just like that. If it's chemotherapy, it's. Chemotherapy doesn't take seven months."

"I know." She exhaled the word know, she didn't really speak it.

"If this is something you need chemotherapy. You. You can't wait. Will you go to the doctor please, tomorrow?"

"I'll go. I may not go tomorrow. But I'll go."

"You don't have to go tomorrow but you'll go, you'll go the next day."

"Well, I may not go the next day. But I'll go."

Monday, March 28, 2005

There's a little book and pencil icon at the bottom of Word, and the pencil moves across the pages of the book as I type, it's doing it right now, I'm looking at it right now, and when I stop it stops and then moves off the page behind a red cross, like a teacher's incorrect mark. There, it just did it. And it's like some kind of mocking mechanism: If you're writing, it writes too, in a little make-believe book, but when you stop it says bad, wrong, angh. Don't stop.

Friday, March 18, 2005

That girl at the gym in the Jacuzzi had wide doe eyes and a thin cute mouth. She started off saying how much will it cost her for me to swim her laps. I said I dunno, I'd still have to swim mine. She said she swims 20 laps most times, I said I go by time. I don't swim fast though. She said she didn't know if she'd do all her laps today, maybe 15. She just got back from Washington, D.C., where there's nothing to eat. Upon arrival at Penn Station her sinuses were filled with the odor of fried food from the many concessions – she thought it was pizza with garlic but who knows – and she was compelled to eat. Immediately. She had an omelet, fries. Pizza. Brownies. And now she made herself go to the gym.

We talked about the availability of foods and in particular specialty baked goods – blondies to be exact – in New York City and Washington, D.C. She was clearly involved in some arcane aspect of political lobbying but I thought it'd be more interesting not to know.

She said years ago when she moved to Washington she didn't cook and everything closed at six and the closest store was a train ride away and she literally cried. She cried.

I got in the pool and eventually she got right beside me and she did some quick, crawl laps and then stood up. She waited for me to swim up.

"Twelve," she said.

"Twelve, huh? Twelve laps," I replied.

"Yes," she said. "It's the final solu... It's the final answer."

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

PC got some badass food poisoning from Chinatown, an issue of soup dumplings containing small, nefarious shrimp. In spite of this he was hunched over a bowl of fried chicken wings.

"I gotta eat something!" he said with a note of desperation.

"You know how guys can write their names in the snow?" Steve said as I stood before them, gleaning details.

"Yeah?" I said.

"Well Pat Canavan can do it with his ass."

The last time I got food poisoning was from Chinatown too, years ago. I had some tomato and beef dish from a place PC liked that was open all night and where the walls were papered with dollars. It tasted fine but I was shitting torrents of liquid for the whole day after. I like Chinatown but there's a deep funk there. An indelible Third World blot. The piles upon piles of fish left out all day, pickled and salted only on the very precipice of decay. Garbage piled on the sidewalks, drifting in the streets; stacks of empty crates and, underfoot, the shucked leaves of some strange, skunky green. And up behind the windows, by the ancient Jewish tailors' signs. Who knows what. A family of fifteen sleeping and fucking in shifts. White men ejaculating between the flat breasts of an aging masseuse. Sullen gang boys smoking crystal meth.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Just when the world seemed hopelessly, overwhelmingly normal I looked above the fence around a scaffold and saw the helmeted head of a construction worker moving like a thing on an assembly line, on someone's unseen body standing or perched on some moving thing.

I remember when Betsey and I started having troubles. It became clear that we had different tastes, different habits.

"You're a night owl," she said. "And I'm..." She really seemed to struggle for the words. "...I'm a day owl."

I'd been fucking Janet already, what an imbecile. She was, I was. And Betsey too. She looked like one of those letter-sweatered blonde angels from about 1957, clutching her books against her tits and hopping into the bad boy's Little Deuce Coupe. Her dad was an airline pilot and her mom was the long-suffering, lonesome, alcoholic wife, haunting her own home while he jetted the Cairo-to-Paris.

Friday, March 11, 2005

I went out with that Scottish girl who looked like Keith Richards a couple of years ago but I never fucked her. That ivory skin pulled taut around her skull put me off, her pirate's teeth. Still I kind of liked her and feel a pang of regret.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

I stayed late at work as usual, picking the guitar and singing an old Appalachian tune. The Hudson wind buffeted the west-facing windows.

Before long I was slapping down the three light switches and waiting for the elevator in the spooky dark.

At the ground floor the doors opened and as is my obsessive custom I verified our floor was locked by punching the button and watching the light blink reassuringly and punching it again for good measure.

I could hardly open the front door against a gust. Then I was nearly swept out into the street on the exposed corner of Greenwich and Canal.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

The tinny concussion of too many TV bullets came through my bedroom door then one solitary, authoritative Pop! came from outside my window in reply.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

She knocked on the back of his hand with her knuckles for the purpose of assessing the degree of his incredulity.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

In the sauna I sensed the unexpected heat of a stranger's gaze; before I knew it he'd opened his mouth.

"I've never seen a tattoo of a chair before."

"No, I guess not many people have."

He asked a few more questions, the typical asinine ones, how did that come about, were you drunk, what does it mean. I gave him my stock replies, not unfriendly though. After a few more minutes of sweating I prepared to leave and thought of what to say, should I say Have a good night? But I looked over at him and he'd gone palms up, lolling his bespectacled head in an earnest and showy display of meditation. I was off the hook.

Snow's been falling in wet flakes all day. They say six inches, eight. I cut across a somehow virgin blanket of it on 56th Street after meeting Eevin and discussing sex, relationships, her upcoming trip to Paris.

Remember when water fell from the sky in drops the size of grapes.