Monday, December 24, 2012

In the breakfast room all the men looked fat and tired, prematurely old; the women upright and sober; their daughters bright eyed and alert, and sons mildly retarded. A middle aged couple sat at the table next to ours. She spoke in soft, woeful tones, sometimes breaking into sobs, as he reached across the table to hold her hand.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

I'm at this hotel in Pennsylvania I don't even know the name of. Country something. Inn whatever.

That hallway on the ground floor between the back parking lot and the front desk. There's the pool behind a row of windows, the sheen of its warm surface unperturbed. The adjacent hot tub is empty and ringed with yellow keep-out tape.

The ice machine makes an awful clatter. Who stays in the room next door?

It was cold when we pulled in. The side road it's on extends to nowhere: a dim and windswept landscape that rises in the distance. There's a stack of bright red, horizontal bars halfway up, like a house made out of light.

Friday, December 21, 2012


"Why did God do that?"

Friday, December 14, 2012


The sky was alive. Every so often you’d perceive it moving—something in it moving very fast, out at the edge of vision. And you knew there might be something moving where you couldn’t see.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012


Sometimes a dirty old sack full of money just falls into your lap. You open it up and whoa, there’s twenties in there. Fives, a whole lotta ones. Some quarters too, even pennies. You don’t know where it came from. There’s nowhere to return it. You’re just sitting there with it pressing gently on your groin, half concealed below the lip of your desk. You’re kinda worried someone might see it—there’s no denying it’s there. But you gotta take it. You gotta open it up, remove the contents. Let the light shine in so you know you got it all. Organize the bills a little, put them in your wallet. Take the coins, let them hang heavy and stupid in your pocket. Then you crumple up the sack and throw it in the trash. You can feel guilty about this if you want. Or not. It’s yours.

Let 'em Off!

The Times Square platform where the 7 starts and ends was unusually crowded, with no train on either side to board. Finally one pulled in and everyone clustered around its doors.

“Let ‘em off! Let ‘em off! Let ‘em off! Let ‘em off! Let ‘em off! Let ‘em off!” the conductor shouted over the PA.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

What Happened at Work So Far Today

Our morning meeting takes place in the reception area because all the conference rooms are booked. There’s a couch, a big ottoman, two tables, some chairs. People walk through the middle, heading in or out the door or along the hallway from one side of the office to the other. Some hurry their pace a little, as though crossing the sight of a tourist’s camera. Some give a little smile that says: There you are in your meeting, and here I am walking through it.

This morning most of the seats were taken. I sat at the high table by the wall, in the corner behind the electric Menorah. I beheld the four fake, flickering flames as account executives discussed this and that. I studied the bearings of the people who walked through. Their various gaits. The meeting broke up and I knocked out the plug while stepping off the stool. The Menorah went dark. I furtively restored it and looked around. No one seemed to notice.

In the men’s room, someone in a stall was engaged in a conference call on speakerphone.

In the middle of the afternoon a colleague suggested we go to the Christmas event that was taking place in the lobby downstairs. The Nutcracker emanated from some unseen string trio and mingled with the din of the assembly. White-clothed tables, festooned with tinsel, ringed the famous globe and lined the marble walls. They bore trays of gingerbread cookies, cake lollipops with red and green frosting, urns of cider and hot chocolate, pitchers of eggnog. A black-clad attendant stood at each, offering to shake nutmeg, to apply aerated cream, to spoon mini-marshmallows with a little plastic spoon. Their faces strained with the discomfort of doing for people what they should do for themselves.


He had been afraid

Friday, December 07, 2012


his life wasn't horribly ordinary

Thursday, December 06, 2012

In my memory La Ciotat, the town on the French Riviera where we spent summers in the early ‘70s, is small and compact, like the town in a children’s book: a road leads down from our house and suddenly you’re on the beach; take a right and you pass some caf├ęs and hotels, a marina, a rocky cove where you can fish or dive or even tie a boat. A little farther off there’s a shipyard, set apart in a maze of docks, where one enormous oil tanker sits on stilts, its hull in patches, as unseen workers pound it with their hammers to break it down for scrap. Clang! Clang! Clang!

I looked at the satellite photo of it today in Google Maps. The coastline conformed plausibly to my image of it but the town itself was vastly more complex and sprawling. Roads in all directions. Schools, museums, parking lots. Major avenues leading into roundabouts and squares. I tried in vain to find the road we lived on. It could be this one, or that one. None seemed the least bit familiar. They all were too urban: heavily populated and girded with infrastructure.

Did the town develop that much over time? Or did my imagination tear it down?

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Early this morning, as I stood in the kitchen, I saw a bright white, flashing beacon through the trees.
What happened today?

Felt out of sorts and alienated at work. Sara said she had a bad day too.

Someone got pushed out on the tracks apparently, and died. Survivors were treated for trauma. It was on the Q line. I don't think I've ever taken it.

In many ways it was a nothing day, a treading water day. A day for killing time before you die. A-Rod wil get hip surgery (like an old woman), miss the start of the season. The princess is pregnant.

Jackie fussed and cried, "No, no, no, no, no, no!"

I made a stupendously bland meal and we watched football, Sara drifting off to sleep as her team lost by a point.