Wednesday, December 31, 2014

We went to the supermarket for the first time in a long time today. A real old-fashioned supermarket down the hill, not the cramped, overpriced one near us. We learned all over again how to navigate the cart around people, how to read the aisle signs, how to tear off the plastic produce bags. Lemons, Cheerios and toilet paper. We could get anything we wanted.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

We scrambled onto the train, the weary parents with their little kid. I got on first with Jackie, listing against me the way kids do, and bobbing her head around. She careened dangerously close to the pole, the seat, surfaces surely contaminated with New York City filth.

“Don’t let her put her face on anything,” Sara called out across the car.

I sat down with Jackie and noticed a guy next to me, a young guy, writing something in a notebook. I read over his shoulder.

“Don’t let her put her face on anything,” he wrote.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014


I’ve had too many dreams about work lately. Not quite nightmares, just dreams where I’m doing what I do at work except there’s a layer or two of dreamy abstraction, like I do it by hand, not on the computer, and my pen turns into a telephone and I have to operate the telephone in order to place a mark on the paper.

Friday, November 21, 2014

TROOPS


A harassed-looking wizard was holding his small daughter tightly by the ankle

Thursday, November 20, 2014

When did I have that dream about being in a bookstore, where there was no ceiling but just a wooden frame, above which there were more shelves with more books, and the place was lit by bare, incandescent bulbs, hanging on wires from out of the darkness? Was it more than one dream? In the dream we were looking for some book, a magical book of some kind. Who were we?

When I was a little kid I’d ride with my dad as he drove to used bookstores around Connecticut to satisfy his, what do you call it, addiction to collecting. His collecting addiction. When you search “collecting addiction” you come across something someone wrote called “How Collecting Opium Antiques Turned Me Into an Opium Addict,” which is funny, damn funny, right down to the letters all properly capitalized in the title—I don’t know that I’ve ever felt the proper use of title case to be funny and I do not know why I feel that it is now—of that thing, whatever it is, an essay or a memoir or just some desperate cry into the void. Anyway maybe it’s bibliophilia. Except he also had it with records and I don’t know what the word is for that.

We’d drive for a while on the back roads, through towns like Thompson, Manchester, Eastford, Scotland. Little fucking towns where there’s nothing going on church suppers and 4-H fairs, no one hanging out but scarecrows and jack-o-lanterns. Sometimes he’d let me grab the steering wheel. In the few seconds that I gripped it in my sweaty left hand I saw everything more clearly: the trees, the lawns, the houses, the cracked and crumbling tar where the road met the ditch.

We’d arrive at some dusty little bookstore and while he scanned the first few pages of dozens of books, hoping to find a first edition, I sat morosely, utterly oblivious of the book-bound universes around me. It’s not that I couldn’t read. I just didn’t want to.

TROOPS


The phrase was exactly right.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

TROOPS

projecting his whole self into his object and

Saturday, November 01, 2014

I felt a deep exhaustion, accumulated over the merciless days of the week.

At the Halloween parade some kid dressed like a soldier was shouting, “Free hugs! Free hugs!”

Friday, October 31, 2014

On the train on the way in this morning I read a phrase over someone’s shoulder and memorized it, at least for a minute. Something about someone pulling up in car, or pulling the car around the block. But it’s gone now.

The F was running on the G so a lot of us got out on Bergen, joining the commuters who were already waiting, two or three rows deep. When the next F came it was packed; only a few people got on.

As I stood waiting with Jackie I observed an interaction between a man and woman, both young, attractive, dark-haired. The man was on the train, evidently having just got on; the woman stood on the platform right in front of us. He was gesturing towards her with his arms open, like, What? What? He said something to her as the doors were closing. Something I couldn’t hear. I wondered whether they were a couple that had been accidentally separated. Two people in love, distraught at having to make it to the city without holding each other’s hands.

“That’s all you have to say?” she replied. “Motherfucker. Asshole.”

He smiled weirdly—a taunting, almost lecherous smile—and nodded aggressively toward her. A fuck you nod.

“Fucking asshole,” she said. Nodding back.

He continued his grimace and flashed her his middle finger, discreetly, low to his waist, as though to be careful no one else could see.

She shook her head. “Fuck you!’

He gave a little shrug as the train pulled away. Still holding his middle finger there. She turned away with a sigh and waited like the rest of us for the next one.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Was out in the hallway hearing fat, cold raindrops pelting the skylight and I wondered whether I felt happy or depressed about it, and decided I felt happy, because fuck it, I was inside and safe and cozy. Who’d be outside right now? Cops directing traffic. In the cold, wet dark. In the inclement weather. I thought about that word. Inclement, clemency. Pope Clement the Sixth. The same root in a word about the wind and the rain and a word about some killer tossing and turning on his cot, hoping to get a reprieve from the governor. And the pope who granted absolution to all the sinners who died in the Plague.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Jackie whispered nonsense words into my ears as we sat in the pizza place, in the sunny booth. I was on a conference call with work. Good thing there was nothing for me to say, as usual, and I had the phone on mute.

Friday, October 24, 2014

The last few nights, there’s been a period when I’ve emerged from the beginning of sleep, or from a reverie, and been wide awake, unhappy, restless. I’ve considered getting up and doing something with that time—writing, playing the guitar—but of course I haven’t, because all I wanted was to get back to sleep. It’s the terrible quandary of the insomniac. All that precious wakefulness, and you don’t want to use it.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

TROOPS

A través de varias estapas de la vida,

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Yesterday was a beautiful day, a bit chilly, with dark clouds moving in for the days of rain to come but the sun still shining through the city as it set. By five o’clock or so sky was gray but the buildings were bathed in that pink-and-orange glow.

I had no meetings but plenty of work. I ate my lunch the way I always do: at my desk, watching old car races on YouTube. Eating an unwieldy burrito quickly, like an animal. Shamefully. Not really tasting it, not really thinking about it, but thinking about not thinking, of course. Self-consciously unconscious.

Apparently at Google they have, what do you call it, mindful eating lunches. Where everyone gathers in the cafeteria and eats together slowly, savoring every forkful. Eyes closed. Humming through their noses as they chew. Grasping at their neighbors’ hands and falling off their chairs, enrapt. Rubbing butter and ketchup on each other’s faces and breasts, pulling off shirts, bras; unbuckling belts; kicking off shoes. Finally coupling and uncoupling, men and women, men together, women together. After half an hour of this a bell is chimed and lunch is over; time to get back to work; there are user experiences to optimize; there’s data to mine and analyze. This is what I suppose happens, anyway. Mindful eating in the Google cafeteria.

I thought about the woman who came in to freelance on Friday and Monday. Her peculiar quiet manner, as though she didn’t quite understand me, or were struggling with the English language. She was maddeningly inept—she didn’t know how to navigate her computer, didn’t seem to grasp the steps to do her job. She took notes in loopy script on the back of a big printout I was showing her and had not intended to give her, and that doesn’t matter; but she was drawing arrows and lines all over it to keep track of where she was and I could see besides she was writing some things wrong. She didn’t seem young, she didn’t seem old. She drifted in and out of the office without a word to anyone. We had no work for her, really, so we couldn’t tell if she was any good. I doubt we’ll ask her back. She gave us no reason to. But the episode made me feel bad somehow. Who was this blurry person? What did she want, or need?

TROOPS

The Fathers counted saints and martyrs of old among their number,

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Governor’s Island is occupied by well-behaved children who take turns ringing the big bell, wait quietly in line for ice cream, follow each other up and down the treehouse and play mini golf with imaginary balls after all the real ones are lost. It’s like some goddamn anti-Lord of the Flies.

We went on a pretty Saturday in September. I was faintly nauseous all weekend, I remember. Like you get when you read for too long in a car. But it was beautiful.

TROOPS

They saw seals, sea lions, a whale.

Friday, October 03, 2014

The Enterprise - 48

It is with great shame that I recount not only that I wanted her in the first place but that after it was all over I wanted her back. In that pitiful state of sex-withdrawal (it wasn’t love-withdrawal; it wasn’t heartbreak—there had been no love) I did what a thousand million men and boys have done before me and what God knows how many more will do again: I asked her out. To talk. To explain. To fuck—I hoped. Fantasized. But come to think of it, I wasn’t even dying to fuck her anymore. What was it I was addicted to all this time? Fucking her? No. Fucking me. I’d gotten used to using her to fuck myself. It was me I was heartbroken for. Me, me, me.

We met on the Ides of March. We walked along Madison Avenue, staring at things in the window we didn’t even want. I believe she allowed me to hold her hand. Mercifully, I never saw her again after that. Except that one time on the train. There’s always that one time on the train. Like it or not, we’re all going to meet again someday.

TROOPS

between his legs. It was cold in Yellowstone Park

Monday, September 22, 2014

TROOPS

Of course overlaying all of these impact investments is the returns.

Friday, September 19, 2014

TROOPS

on a rock or a log,

Thursday, September 18, 2014

TROOPS

, and later fell in with the anti-Vikings.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

TROOPS

because an actor's inspiration for a part is personal.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

9/14/14

When I start writing, in Google Drive, the first thing I need to know is the date. I create a doc and that infernal little window pops up—it used to be that, by default, the title would be the first who knows how many characters of the text itself; the title would be the text and the text would be the title, and you needn't lift a finger—now I have to name it something so I name it for the date, in standard all-American format, like on the spine of a cassette of a Grateful Dead concert: 2/14/68, 5/8/77, 10/10/82. So 9/14/14.

Like the date might mean something. Like what I'm writing is historic, or enmeshed in history. Like it's got anything to do with it, really.

And sometimes, by the time I've thought hard enough to remember the date, I've forgotten what I was going to write about.

Sunday, September 07, 2014

Overheard in Manhattan, a woman of about forty on her phone:

"... clips of her. You should just watch."

Friday, September 05, 2014

Here we are again at the beginning of things: school, work, the football season. Every year I think I'll take note of it, pause before it passes by. Every year I don't. Except for now.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Peering out from our balcony onto the Promenade des Anglais I saw the usual nighttime parade of pseudo-rich younger couples trying to make the scene or something, of vagrants and mediocre musicians, of tourists like us. There were two little fucking fountains erupting from somewhere on the sidewalk, or maybe from the island in the middle of the street. I couldn’t tell whether they were meant to be functional—to water the palms and those shrubs with the pointy leaves—or decorative. Or maybe it was the water main. No one seemed to notice or care, anyway.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

We are staying in a vacation apartment on the water in Nice. It is clean, modern. Unlivable.

Behind the kitchen faucet there stands a bottle of dish detergent whose brand name is the Soviet space station that fell to earth.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

I found the passenger list from the QE2, when my family came back from France, not quite a year after I was born. It fell out of the back of some old photo album, a not-quite relevant one—of my father growing up—the way these kinds of documents often do. It was blue, and plain, with a stylish little drawing of the ship at the bottom. There was no preface, no preamble; no ads nor filler about the grand history of Cunard Lines. No nothing—just the list. And it was absurdly long. Like the list of minor donors in the back of a program at Carnegie Hall. But worse. Hundreds upon hundreds of names, blanketing the alphabet; every common name you could think of and a good number of weird ones, too. Speaking of which, there in the expected place were we: my father, my mother, my sister with fourteen in parentheses, my brother with ten, and me without a number. I realized later that the date on the cover of the booklet, August 22nd, 1969, was exactly forty-five years ago today.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Ten hours of deep, dark jetlag sleep. I dreamt about work; the project manager on my team was sleeping on mattresses on the floor in the office. There was a bit of copy she wanted me to edit on a manuscript. I tried not to sound insane as I asked her about it. There must have been lots of other dreams, probably dreams inside of dreams, but I can’t remember them now.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

TROOPS

One thing that shapes almost all of these concepts: They're practical.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Some awful, frustrating reality kept intruding upon my dreams. Something to do with the sheet and the blanket, with being too cold or too hot, but maybe none of those things really because nothing seemed to make it better. Even as I was deep in a dream—about band rehearsal in a music store with packages of every kind of guitar string arrayed on the wall but always out of reach, I think—I felt the discomfort.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

TROOPS

I think that before you decide that you're in love with a guy from Russia,

Monday, August 11, 2014

TROOPS

Katie just melts. I've never seen her melt before—

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

TROOPS

now officially "too hot," pulled off his

Friday, July 25, 2014

TROOPS

and in her panic to hold it together she leaped from the edge into soundlessness

Thursday, July 24, 2014

TROOPS

"Mmm. Timid people can surprise you."

"Well she did."

TROOPS

were actually put to thee then by the

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

As I sat here typing my password into my computer to begin the day I wondered, Did I have a dream about typing my password into my computer to begin the day?

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Stung

Suddenly the bee was there, on my ring finger. It wouldn’t go away, which was strange; it just sat there, brushing my skin with its wings and hair. It’s just a poor bee, I thought—I shouldn’t kill it. Should I? I tried to shake it off and sure enough the sting came, hot and angry. Red wine spilled out of my plastic cup in big drops but still the bee kept stinging. It felt like a reproach. Like I deserved it.

We moved our picnic things away from the nest and I imagined them watching approvingly. Don’t worry, bees. We won’t bother you no more. But soon after I poured another cup of wine one landed on my hand, my other hand—again, the hand that held the wine. I was resigned this time. I just have to let it do this, I thought. And it did. My fingers swelled; my hands felt poisoned, heavy. But no bees bothered us again.
At the party in New Hyde Park, out on Long Island, I was hoping the flight path of the planes taking off from JFK—or landing, who can ever really tell?—would be right above the house, as it was last year, but it wasn’t; the planes were off to the side a ways, disappearing behind the giant gray water tower and reappearing after a strangely long time for something so big that’s moving through the sky.

Jackie played on the well-tended lawn, sometimes by herself, sometimes trying to keep up with big kids. It was cloudy but it never did seem like it was going to rain. The sun came out later, blinding us on our ride home. On the Kosciuszko Bridge you could barely stand to see the Skyline.

Friday, July 18, 2014

TROOPS

of God, our own highest voice, becomes crowded out in the process

Thursday, July 17, 2014

TROOPS

She looked back at me and the fear was naked in her face.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

TROOPS

a sickly, frail fellow, who despite his fundamental defect,

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The Streak - 98

You wake up and it’s dark and your legs hurt and your back hurts. Now why is that? You’re in the back of a fucking car in the middle of the night. That’s right. And there’s this situation going on. What did they call it? A procedure? An operation.

The car’s not moving though. One of the guys is snoring in the passenger seat; the other guy is gone. Where fuck are we?

You feel an urge to get out. Door’s locked. Other door’s locked. But you can work the controls on the driver’s side armrest, you’re pretty sure. You lean between the seats and reach for them, careful not to touch whatshisname, Joe, Matt, whoever, and press buttons until you hear that happy little sound: chup! The latch releasing. Door’s open now. You get out. The night air is hot and dry.

Inside the building there’s a diner and a store, each lit mercilessly with high, fluorescent lights under which a few patrons and workers struggle to survive. You wander into the diner, avoiding eye contact, trying not to be seen. Are you hungry? Maybe you’re hungry. There’s a pile of onions browning on the griddle and shouldn’t there be a smell associated? You watch the cook turning them and you can hear them sizzle. You can hear the tapping of the spatula. You’d think there was a smell of onions, a delicious smell. You try to remember what the smell should be. A little bit sweet? Smoky, prickly? Sullen? Bent? A little desperate? What are the words you’re supposed to use to describe a smell, even? You don’t know anymore. Is that why nothing’s coming up your nose? You know if you could smell right now you’d remember something—smell and memory go together, they say—like Mom in the kitchen cooking liver and onions, which you hated; she knew you hated it and it seemed like she cooked it just to spite you. Is it possible your mother, who loved you the best—she always did say so, and the others didn’t let you forget it—hated you all along? Is that what love was? Hate? Now you get that thing they talk about, a chill. A chill down your spine. That part of your physiology seems to work just fine.

Why can’t the memory be nice? Onions. Onions and peppers on a sausage, from a cart outside Fenway with Dad before he got sick, in what could it have been, nineteen-ninety-something. That’s right, you were born and raised a Red Sox fan and you came up a Red Sock, dream come true, and one thing led to another and here you are a Yankee. Your team is your blood and the guys are your brothers, that’s the law, no question, no matter where you come from. But they sure did give you shit when you first appeared in Boston in your navy trim. They yelled faggot the whole time you first walked to the circle. Faggot, faggot, faggot, faggot, faggot. Other things, too. I swear to God I’m gonna kick your ass, you faggot, Benjaminson. And this one: Benjamin Arnold! But mostly, they called you this: faggot.

There’s a mysterious authority fans have when they boo and jeer. Even when they’re drunk and stupid. Especially when they’re drunk and stupid. What is it, exactly? Somehow, they yell the vilest insults with absolute, emphatic certainty. The cruder it is, the more ridiculous even—somehow, the more true it seems. These are people, some of them—well, maybe they never have a moment of uncontested authority in their entire, shitty little lives. Their mothers and fathers and teachers and wives and bosses have been breaking their balls for thirty or forty goddamned years. Stand up, sit down, shut up. I said shut up! Eat, sleep, get up, get dressed, go to work, behave yourself, be on time, go the fuck back home. Tonight you get to fuck me. Tomorrow night you don’t. And now look at you. Look at them look at you. All preening and pretty in your uniform. A fictional being, popping off the pages of the most glorious story in America. You live inside a book; you write a chapter with your bat. They can’t even write the story of their lives. They can only howl in the margins of yours.

Is it that they know you don’t live like them, that you don’t eat shit like they do? It can’t be that simple. Can it? Some of these people are movers and shakers, alpha personalities, success stories. They may be plumbers or account executives or train conductors but they’re not losers. Not all of them, at least. In fact, what does it say about you that you so readily gravitated to that characterization? You’ve got another chill now. Don’t you?

Yet there they are in the trash-strewn stands and there you are on the immaculate grass. There’s no special rhyme or reason to it, really, but you’re on the other side of some divide and the only privilege they have compared to you, the only authority they have over you, is to scream at you what a faggot you are, spittle erupting out their mouths and down their chins. You gotta hand it to them on some level. They’re right. You may be the writer but they’re the reader.

And they’re right about you. The straight faggot. That’s what you were. That’s what you are. What is it about that word?

Whereas there’s dignity in being a homosexual—in asserting who you are, casting off shame, deflecting sticks and stones, and names; knowing what you want and how to get it—there’s no end to the dishonor in your heterosexual faggotry. You never stood up and made decisions. You never thought about what you cared about. You barely worked—not hard enough, not as hard as you could. It all came so easy for you; seeing the ball, hitting the ball, seeing the ball, hitting the ball. Getting laid. Hitting the ball. Did you study the game? This beautiful, mysterious game? Did you examine your weaknesses? Did you strive at all times to improve? Did you reach deep down inside? Did you prostrate yourself before God, or some god, or something, in complete humility, offering yourself in every way so as to better serve Him, or Her, or It; or to become a more perfect being; or to know something, even the slightest fucking thing, the light, the something, whatever the fuck? No. You trained lazily, reluctantly, and you took the fucking andro, the ‘roids, the cortisone, the vikes, and you fucking jerked off into a puddle on the floor. You were born with a silver bat up your ass, you lucky cunt. Talented, muscular. Lightning reaction time. You should have respected your gift but you took it all for granted. You traded your glorious, athletic self to Satan for coke and blowjobs, in increments too small to notice at first but look at you now. You’re not a ballplayer. You’re not a husband to your wife. Not a father to your son. Faggot. Straight faggot.

Can you hate yourself so much you disappear? Maybe you could slip back across that divide, become a short-order cook at a truckstop diner in the Nevada desert, never talk about baseball again, or at least not for a good long time, until inevitably someone comes looking for you, someone from the papers, like they used to say; someone who persists despite your resolute denials, and then he breaks you, catches you in a weak moment, says something about your son, probably, and finally he writes an article about you, and then a book, which becomes a movie, a great one, leaving people weeping in their seats. Is that what you want? It is what you want, isn’t it? Even in your deepest fantasy of worthlessness you wind up king of the hill.

You touch your nose. It’s still rubbery and sore. From what? You took a good beating, remember? From who? From your double. From Evan Benjaminson, ha. From who? From you. Isn’t that right? You get a cold, dark feeling, a feeling you’ve had before but never this strong. The relentless truth finally catching up to you. That was you. That—he—you—who roughed you up in St. Louis. That was for a reason. He can be you now. You can be someone else. Better yet—you can be no one. A short-order cook. A stock boy at the truckstop store. A spectator. That seems to be the only way out. A perfect way out, really. So elegant. Except for one thing: your double’s about to die.
As I wandered from the kitchen back to my cubicle with my coffee I overheard someone telling someone this: “I don’t like the way he seems to coast through life. I find that… problematic.”

The Dictionary Defines Hundred as Ten Times Ten

There’s an old dictionary propped on a stand on a table near my desk, opened to H—humblebee to Hunnish. I glanced at a random definition on the page: hundred. It is defined as a cardinal number, ten times ten.

Monday, July 14, 2014

4th Avenue Scene

A few years ago I was gassing up the car on 4th Avenue in Brooklyn, soon after we moved to Park Slope. A car was pulling up to the intersection in an ordinary, leisurely way when another came up fast behind it, pulled around and stopped just in front with a screech. Immediately its driver began a furious harangue:

“You fucking cocksucker! You motherfucker! You fuck with me? You fuck with me? I’m about to fuck with you, motherfucker!” he shouted, his head and torso straining out the window. “I’m going to fuck you up you little fucking pussy, you fucking maricón!”

He punctuated his insults by spasmodically slapping the outside of his door and banging on the horn.

“I fucking kill you! Fucking little bitch! Look at you now bitch! Look at you now!” Honk! Honk! “I should climb out of my fucking car and kill you, cocksucker!” Slap! “Bitch!” Honk! Slap! “You cut me off?! You cut me off?! I cut you off, bitch, how you like that?! How you like that?!” He indicated the front of his car with a jab of his outstretched hand, like: Look. I cut you off. “You don’t fucking cut me off, bitch! I fucking cut you off! Faggot!”

Through it all the driver of the other car, a meek young man in glasses, sat impassively, staring at his abuser.

“You wanna fuck with me, you little piece of shit?! You wanna fuck with me? I fuck with you!” Honk! Honk! “Little fucking bitch. You happy now? Bitch.” Honk! Slap! “You fucking happy now?”

Here there was the briefest pause.

“You fuck with me again I kill you.”

And then the angry driver took off in a U-turn, tires squealing, and drove back up the avenue. The light had turned green and red and green and red again by now, so the other driver had to wait. And wait. Alone.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Something fell from the windowsill into the tub, one of Jackie’s toys or something. Probably the wind picked up.

A minute later there was an awful crack outside the living room. I went to the window. It looked like a normal summer evening—pedestrians, joggers and cyclists, all oblivious, lost in thought. Yet the wind was moving strangely, in little eddies. You could see it in the way the leaves rustled and the trash blew. I looked to my left and found that a tree had split about halfway up and fallen over parked cars and into the avenue. Passersby turned to calmly photograph the scene. Cars honked as they navigated around the branches. Finally the police arrived, then some kind of city truck. We settled back onto the couch as the chainsaws started up.

TROOPS

Or what I imagined someone might wear to a party.

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

TROOPS

"If Kenten is involved in something that sleazy and high-risk, why would he initiate a meeting and attract attention?"

Monday, July 07, 2014

Robert Moses Beach

We set up on a little patch above the surf, in front of a young, attractive family, a couple and their little girl. They looked European, Italian maybe. They spoke English to each other but you could swear you heard an accent. Tedious dance music played from their little black-and-red boom box. Several times, the man lifted it, shook it, blew on it. She sunbathed. Sometimes she’d lift her head to watch her daughter with a frown. Sometimes he’d rush up and scold the girl for not playing nice with Jackie, though Jackie didn’t care. The woman sat up to eat potato chips, deliberately placing one at a time on her tongue. She had eyebrows like Kate Winslet. Her husband picked up the boom box and blew.

A gust tore their parasol from its base and rammed it into an elderly couple in beach chairs behind them. Profuse apologies, expressions of concern. The man retrieved it, tried to reinstall it in the wind, thought better of it and folded it up.

When it was time to leave he took the little girl into the water and submerged her, holding her by the waist. She wailed as he carried her back up the beach. They shrouded her in towels and set her down. Before long she was quiet, relaxed, possibly asleep. The man picked up the boom box and shook, and blew. Finally they gathered up their things, the woman took the wrapped-up girl into her arms, and they walked off to the parking lot.

TROOPS

They were all hooked into dispatch

Thursday, July 03, 2014

TROOPS

on the front step as we pulled into the driveway.

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

TROOPS

"I'm sorry," he said again

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

TROOPS

The city would usually request a third page because the twenty reminders that

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

TROOPS

we're safeguarded, existing policies that bore down unfairly

Monday, June 16, 2014

TROOPS

Although the unicorns feared the crawlers,

Friday, June 13, 2014

TROOPS

"The only member of his whole family who survived the war,"

Thursday, June 12, 2014

We went to hang out in Central Park, a class reunion of sorts for Sara’s high school. It was a radiant, beautiful goddamned day. A little girl there had a sheet of paper with boxes numbered one to a hundred. Jackie counted them to thirty. Nearby, a fat man and a skinny man kicked a soccer ball back and forth, the skinny man much more skilled. A pale woman sunbathed in a bikini and a leg cast. A portly couple sat picnicking, she reading aloud from a hardcover novel as he picked off a grape. We laid out our blue sheet. A couple times, I lay back on it and closed my eyes. For about a minute. Bliss seeping into me.

While Sara talked to her friends Jackie wanted to go play on a big, flat rock, on the other side of the wire-fenced path. Just to be on the rock instead of the grass, I suppose. She said she wanted to climb the rock, but there was nothing to climb. It just rose very slightly higher than the ground, like many other rocks in this contrived landscape. She must like the change in the surface, the fact it feels different underfoot. She’d just learned the word texture.

There were weird round metal disks embedded into the rock, about three inches in diameter. Some bewildering numbers were stamped on them, and also these words: project marker. Jackie lost interest in the rock and went to pick leaves off a tree. After a while I put her on my shoulder and headed back.

TROOPS

standard macho-money guise.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

TROOPS

a reality just as important as "real life."

TROOPS

and showed no sign of weariness

Wednesday, June 04, 2014

I like the storms that occur at the end of the afternoon, this time of year; that make commuters loiter on subway landings, waiting for a break.

Did I dream about China last night?
A lot of technology that we think is about communicating more, or communicating better, is really about communicating less. The telephone took the place of calling in person; phone conversations are shorter. Emails are short, often terse, versions of letters. Our texts and tweets are shorter still. And now that we maintain contact with the rest of the world via the “like” button, our communications are entirely wordless.

What’s the next step?

Tuesday, June 03, 2014

We walked through the Coney Island station, Jackie on my shoulders. Above the bustle and the dirt. It was crowded on the sidewalk, too. With big people. Big kids. Big couples holding hands.

A lady with a haunted look panhandled listlessly outside Nathan’s. She might have been pregnant. Or her belly was horribly distended, like a Biafran child’s.

I peered at the go-kart track and wondered if Jackie was old enough to ride with me. Probably not. The sun shone so bright, you could barely see.

We got to the Boardwalk and everything seemed alright. People were having fun. But there was something funny in the air.

I spotted a large man, a biker type, with sunglasses and a goatee. He was clutching some kind of children’s plastic toy—an airplane, or a car, or a water gun maybe. It was made of that bright, brittle, translucent plastic. That material that can only be a toy. I believe it was pink.

Suddenly he threw it to the floor and crushed it under his heel. All the while looking straight ahead, tight-faced, seething. His woman ran up to him and swatted him on the shoulder, like he was a misbehaving boy.

“How could you do that?” she cried. “How could you do that?”

TROOPS

Then catch myself. It's messing with my mind too much.