Thursday, April 24, 2014

The day grew difficult. The tax assessment from 2010. The death of the security guard. Still, the sky was an unbroken blue. Blue like ice cream, Jackie said.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Last Monday night we got up in the middle of the night to watch the eclipse. It was that strange nothing time when the lights are off and the dishwasher runs and no one’s on the street.

I felt afraid when I lifted the hatch. What if the darkening moon was up there waiting for me? All I wore was my bathrobe and my slippers.

It was cool and misty. The sky was mostly covered in high clouds. You could see Manhattan. You could see planes landing in New Jersey. The Statue of Liberty and her torch. But no moon. We gazed at the sky for a while. We knew we wouldn’t see the moon but we felt like we should spend a little time up there. The dew settled on every surface and still felt scared.

Finally we decided to go down and back to bed. I was happy that we tried.


EXACTLY the name on the identification documents.


Mrs. Bingham said, "I wouldn't know."

Tuesday, April 22, 2014


Rand put a hand on my shoulder.

Friday, April 18, 2014

There's Lots I Don't Know

I gaze at the triangular conference call thing on the table. No one’s on the line. Or is someone on the line? Maybe someone’s on the line but they’re on mute. Or someone’s on the line and they’re silent. Or no one’s on the line. The team is seated around the table as the account supervisor holds forth, reviewing the project work plan.

I see it says 12 volts DC just above where the power cord is plugged in. It really says “12VDC” but I’m pretty sure that means 12 volts DC. Direct current. As opposed to alternating current. But I’m not completely sure. I’m not completely sure about the V and I’m not completely sure about the DC. I’m only sure about the 12.

The power adapter. What does that mean, adapter? Adapt to what?

I don’t even know what the fuck a volt is. Volts. Voltage. I know there’s such a thing as a nine-volt battery. Why is that the only battery we know by its voltage? The others are A, B, C, D, whatever. No. Not A. Double-A. Triple-A. Like baseball. Like minor-league baseball. For some reason, the system for identifying certain batteries that are suitable for smoke detectors and remote controls and other small appliances is the same system that is used to designate the lower rungs of professional baseball.

What the fuck is the voltage of a double-A battery? If it’s nine, I’m throwing up my hands.

Maybe every battery has to be nine volts but only one of them gets to be called that. I don’t know. How the fuck would I know?

The lights dim and flicker in our apartment when you turn the toaster on. You Google something like that, it says you might not be getting enough voltage. How could something like that be happening? Where the fuck did the missing volts go?

There’s electricity coursing through our bodies all the time. I’m pretty sure I read about that somewhere, or saw it on TV. We are electric beings. We touch things and some of our electricity goes there. Someone touches us. Their electricity flows into us. Electrons flying up and down the lengths of our arms at almost the speed of light. I’m pretty sure electrons travel close to the speed of light. But I may be completely wrong.

What the fuck is a watt? That’s something else to do with electricity. You talk about volts, you talk about watts. But fuck if I know.
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Thursday, April 17, 2014

Down in the tunnel between the 7 and the F this evening someone was incanting something monotonously, almost mechanistically, amid the rush-hour crowd. It was a Chinese woman, preaching the Gospel like an auctioneer.

Thursday, April 10, 2014


that sum would be enough for her studies, so that all

Tuesday, April 08, 2014


Her face fell. "Nothing.

Friday, April 04, 2014

The Announcement

A three-act play.


Suzie: A professional-looking woman in her mid-forties, conservatively dressed and groomed.

Sadie: Suzie’s sister, younger by a couple of years. Sadie appears somewhat more casual than Suzie but is still quite conventional.

Sally: Suzie and Sadie’s sister, younger than Suzie by a couple of years. Sally is unconventional in appearance: her hair is dyed blue and she wears dark makeup; she has the look of someone who long ago dropped out of society to live a life of artistic and spiritual pursuits.

The Waiter: A young, male waiter dressed in black jeans and a black button-down shirt.

Andrew: A man in his late thirties, dressed casually—a bit young for his age—with longish hair and facial stubble. He looks like he might be in a band.


The present.



A nice bar, where people who don’t see each other often might meet for a drink. Suzie and Sadie are seated at a round four-top, each with a glass of white wine before them.

Suzie: Well, I’m not surprised.

Sadie [after a pause]: I’m a little bit surprised.

Suzie: You are?

Sadie: Well…

Suzie [shaking her head]: I’m telling you. It makes so much sense.

Sadie [wincing, unconvinced]: I guess it does. In a way… I don’t know.

Suzie: Can’t you see? It all adds up.

Sadie: Really?

Suzie [enumerating with her fingers]: The depression. The anxiety. The eating disorders.

Sadie [nodding in agreement]: Uh-huh. Uh-huh.

Suzie: The mania. The problems with her jaw.

Sadie [with a wistful little laugh]: Yeah… I guess. I see what you mean.

Suzie: No, no, no, no. I’m telling you. I had it in the back of my mind.

Sadie: You did? Really?

[Suzie nods emphatically.]

Sadie: How? I mean, how did you know specifically?

Suzie [squirming a bit, equivocating]: Hmm… well, it’s not like I knew exactly.

Sadie: OK…

Suzie: It’s impossible to know.

Sadie: Right.

Suzie: But I’m telling you. It flashed in my mind.

Sadie: It flashed? Specifically?

Suzie: Yep.

Sadie: When? Why?

Suzie: Oh, I probably first thought about it at Mom’s funeral.

Sadie [with a double take]: Mom’s funeral?

Suzie: Yeah. She was acting super weird. There was something about her that day.

Sadie: Well. Mom died.

Suzie: Yeah! Yeah, no. Something else.

Sadie: What?

Suzie: Her face. Her energy.

Sadie: Her energy?

Suzie: Her hair. Her hair!

Sadie [dully, as though lost in her memory of that day]: Her hair was weird.

Suzie: I’m telling you, I had a good look at her. I was looking at her looking at Mom.

Sadie [shuddering]: Eesh. That’s weird.

Suzie [waving dismissively]: Whatever, whatever. It was just a moment. You know how tedious the whole thing was. I started to think.

Sadie: And?

Suzie: And I thought: There is a conflict in this person.

Sadie [with mild sarcasm]: Like we never saw conflict.

Suzie [shaking her head]: Not like that. Something else. Something new. Something deeper. Something left unsaid.

Sadie: Something left unsaid to Mom?

[Suzie nods and pensively takes a sip of wine.]

Sadie: And that’s when you thought…

Suzie: That’s when I thought it might be true.

[A few moments pass as Sadie and Suzie reflect silently on what’s been said.]

Sadie: Well it does answer some questions.

Suzie [pleased, feeling justified]: See?

[A moment passes as Suzie takes a sip of wine.]

Sadie: But don’t you think we would have heard of, you know—

Suzie [interrupting]: Sadie, there’s a million things she hasn’t said. A million things she doesn’t talk about. And that was one of them.

[Sadie sighs. A few moments pass.]

Suzie: Why do you think she wants to see us after all this time?

Sadie: Right. True.

Suzie: I’m telling you. She has something to say.

[A few more moments pass.]

Sadie: I guess it’s over for whatshisname.

Suzie [barking out a laugh]: Yeah!

Sadie: Whatshisname. Michael?

Suzie: Andrew.

Sadie: Andrew! I knew it was one of those fucking guys with boring names who don’t use their fucking nickname. Michael. Peter. Patrick.

Suzie: Andrew.

Sadie: Good riddance.

Suzie [leaning back and staring quizzically at Sadie]: Really?

Sadie: Well, I mean. He had his good points and his bad points. But you know, it’s been how long?

Suzie [conceding]: Years.

Sadie: It’s been years. On again, off again years.

Suzie: And you hold him responsible for that?

Sadie: Yeah, well. He could have, you know. Been more honest about what he wanted. He could have been a little bit less of a goddamned wallflower. He could have, like, not fled to India for six months.

Suzie: You’d flee to Mars if you were her boyfriend.

Sadie: I’m just saying, maybe he could’ve stepped up a little. Jeez, I don’t know.

Suzie: It takes two to fuck up a relationship, Sade.

Sadie: Yeah. Well. I guess it’s moot now.

[A few moments pass.]

Suzie [a bit smugly]: Sadie, I only wish the best for Sally. You know that. I’ve always supported her in her…

Sadie: Yeah. Yeah, yeah.

Suzie: You know, the years of, you know, transcendental fucking meditation.

Sadie [smiling]: Sheesh!

Suzie: And that fucking woman, what was her name?

Sadie: That fucking guru.

Suzie: That fucking nitwit cult leader. I thought we were never going to see her again.

Sadie: Seriously.

Suzie [shaking her head]: She lost so much money on her.

Sadie: And time.

Suzie: And time! She lost a lot of money and a lot of time. What was her name again? Mother something.

Sadie: Mother May I.

Suzie: Mother Fucker.

Sadie [after a guffaw]: Mother… Moonshine?

Suzie [urgently, holding out and waving her flat hand as though to get her words in]: No, no, close, no—

Sadie [triumphantly]: Mountain!

Suzie: That’s right! That’s right. Jesus Christ, Sade. That’s right. Mother Mountain.

[Sadie and Suzie laugh a bit. Then their laughter ebbs and they rest, sort of catching their breaths.]

Suzie: What a goddamned piece of work.

Sadie: Who?

Suzie: Both of them. Sally.

Sadie: Yeah.

Suzie: But anyway. You know. That’s what I’m saying. I—we—saw her through all that. [Thinking better of it] Helped see her through all that.

Sadie: Yeah. We did. You did.

Suzie: And now—today—she’s obviously in such a better place.

Sadie: We’ll see! Hope so. We’re about to find out.




Same as Act I.

[Sally barges in, full of manic energy. She engages in over-the-top greetings, kisses and hugs with her sisters. Through it all, Suzie and Sadie play along but appear a little bit stiff, a little wary. As Sally finally settles down, the Waiter comes by to take her order.]

The Waiter: What can I get you, ma’am?

Sally: Oh what do I want, what do I want, what do I want?

The Waiter: Would you like to see our—

Sally [waving him off a bit comically]: Get me a martini! With olives! What do you call it, a dirty martini!

The Waiter: Sure—

Sally [suddenly, gripping her forehead]: No! Wait! I’m not in the mood for that.

The Waiter: Do you need a minute to decide?

Sally [almost angrily]: No!

The Waiter [bemused]: Alright!

Sally: What do you have that’s sweet?

The Waiter: Well, let’s see, um, lots of things, a daiquiri, a—

Julia: Get me a daiquiri!

The Waiter: Strawberry? Banan—

Julia: Strawberry. No! Banana! Banana! Banana! Banana!

The Waiter: Great! [He turns to Suzie and Sadie and indicates their half-full wine glasses with a little gesture] Are you two…? [They nod and smile and the waiter exits.]

Julia [smiling]: So! Look at you two. [Suzie and Sadie stare back glumly. Julia’s smile turns into a frown of exaggerated concern. She ducks her head and peers quizzically at each sister in turn.] Who fucking died?

[Suzie and Sadie laugh nervously.]

Sadie [ingenuously]: No one died!

Sally: Honest to fucking God, did Mom die all over again? [Sadie rolls her eyes slightly] You guys look like you saw a ghost.

Suzie: We’re fine! We’re fine. How are—

Sally: Dad?

Suzie: Well, you know Dad.

Sally: What do you mean, I know Dad?

Suzie: You know, you know how he is.

Sally [appealing to Sadie with a grimace]: What do I do with that? What am I supposed to make of that?

Sadie [with a sigh]: Sally, I think Suzie is just trying to tell you that… well, nothing. She’s not trying to tell you anything. Dad is Dad.

Sally [her voice rising, indignant]: What the hell is going on here? Why are you guys acting so weird?!

[The Waiter returns with Sally’s banana daiquiri. She thanks him, takes a big gulp, and puts it down on the table a bit too hard, so it sloshes a little out of the glass. Suzie gives her a little reproachful look as the Waiter walks away.]

Sally [to Sadie]: Tell me. [Pause. To Suzie] Tell me!

Suzie: What? What? There’s nothing to tell.

Sally: Something’s the matter with Dad.

Suzie: There’s nothing the matter with Dad! That’s not it. Dad’s fine!

Sadie [quickly]: He’s just getting old, Sally. Not getting any younger. Getting old.

Suzie: His feet. You know he keeps complaining about his feet.

Sadie: He doesn’t like to walk so much. Which is terrible for him, really.

Suzie: Terrible!

[Sally is watching their conversation like a tennis match, mouth agape.]

Sadie: It is terrible! He used to love to walk. Remember the walks we used to take behind the house?

Suzie: I used to love those walks. Into the woods. Back out into the graveyard.

Sadie: By the falls.

Suzie: By the falls, and back up the road, past the haunted house. Remember the haunted house?

Sadie: That house terrified me!

Suzie: Dad used to make up scary stories about that house.

Sadie: I know!

Suzie: You used to get so scared. You’d beg him to stop.

[Sadie shakes her head and laughs.]

Suzie [breezily, laughing a little]: Sally, do you remember the walks we used to take? You were young. Were you too young? Were you too young to remember?

Sally [dead serious]: What did you mean by that, Suzie?

Suzie [her laughter stopping abruptly]: What do you mean, what did I mean?

Sally [a little louder, angrier]: What did you mean by that?

Suzie [sighing]: Sally, I don’t know what you’re talking about. What are you talking about?

Sally [pointing at Suzie reproachfully]: You said that’s not it.

Suzie [truly bemused]: Hmm?

Sally: When we started talking about Dad. You said that’s not it. There’s nothing the matter with Dad, that’s not it. So if that’s not it, what is it?

Suzie [groaning, covering her face with her hands]: Jesus, Sally! I don’t know! Maybe it’s, I don’t know!

Sally: What?

Suzie: Jesus!

Sally: What!?

Suzie: Maybe you could call him once in a blue moon! I don’t know!

Sally [almost choking on her words]: Oh please! For fuck’s sake, Suzie! Don’t give me that fuck—

Sadie: Stop! Sally, stop! Suzie! Stop! We don’t care. I don’t care. I don’t want to talk about it. Dad’s fine. No one’s blaming you, Sally. This isn’t what we wanted to talk about.

Sally: Huh. OK. Well then why don’t you tell me what it is you wanted to talk to me about, Sadie.

Sadie: Well, it’s not that—

Sally [almost to herself]: For fuck’s sake, Sadie. Why is there always an agenda with you? Why is there always a thing to discuss? You too, Suzie. [Looking to Suzie] You’re even worse than Sadie! We can’t sit down and have a fucking drink [by way of weird demonstration, Sally takes another big sip of her drink and plonks it down with the same force as she did before], have a fucking drink, have a nice conversation. With my sisters. Is that too goddamn much to ask?

Suzie [calmly]: No it’s not, Sally. Of course it’s not. I think what Sadie is referring to—
[Sally mutters under her breath, still distracted] Sally? I think what Sade is referring to is what I take to be a bit of good news. I assume to be a bit of good news. [Winningly] From you! Good news from you.

Sally [truly perplexed]: I beg your pardon?

Suzie: Well, come on. It’s big news, right? I mean, good news! Good news too! I assume?

Sadie: We have some questions, obviously, but—

Suzie: We are going to have some questions. Naturally. But it’s good news, Sally, I was happy for you. I am happy for you. And I—we [glancing towards Sadie]—want you to know that you have our fullest support.

Sally [with a double take]: Fullest support?

Suzie [nodding genially]: Regarding your, uh… what do you call it?

Sadie: Announcement?

Suzie: Announcement!

Sally: Guys. Announcement where? What the fuck are you even talking about?

Suzie [now beginning to grow confused herself]: OK. The announcement you made last night? [Pause] On Facebook?

Sally: On Facebook?! I barely ever fucking use Facebook!

Suzie [now really confused]: Well, uh… did you use it… last night?

[Sally grabs her phone, which she had placed on the table beside her drink, and frantically navigates to Facebook. After a few moments, she reads something and lets out a piercing, panicked scream. Curtain.]



Same as the close of Act II.

Sally [addressing both sisters]: How could you even imagine that was real?

Suzie [cowed]: I don’t know, Sally. I don’t know anything about hacking. What am I supposed to think? I don’t know.

Sally [shaking her head. She looks to Sadie]: I just can’t believe both of you would think that.

Sadie: I know. I know!

Suzie [to Sadie]: Oh come on! You believed it too.

Sadie [defensively]: I’m not saying I didn’t! I’m not saying anything. [Sadie covers her face with her hands, as though she wants to disappear.]

Sally: Guys, you make me laugh.

Suzie [embarrassed]: OK, Sally. OK. OK. We get it.

Sally: One little fucking stupid thing on Facebook and all of a sudden my own sisters don’t know me anymore.

Suzie [under her breath]: Oh we know you.

Sally [loudly]: You don’t know me for shit!

Suzie: We know you all too well.

Sally: Suze! God damnit!

Suzie: Forgive me for fucking speaking the truth for five goddamned minutes. Sorry. [She takes a sip of her wine.]

Sally: Oh you are such a cunt.

Suzie: That’s enough, Jul—

Sally [her voice rising, taking the opportunity to indignantly make a point]: No, that’s not enough, Suzie! You always do this! You always tell me enough. It’s not enough!

Suzie [quietly, with weary sarcasm]: It’s never enough.

Sally [loudly, proudly]: That’s it! That’s it, Suzie! IT IS NEVER ENOUGH. [Sally stands up and pounds her hand on the table for emphasis] I! WANT! MORE!

Suzie [facetiously]: More drugs?

Sally: YES!

Suzie: More love? More attention?

Sally: YES! YES!

Suzie: More food? More drink?

Sally: YES! YES!

Suzie: More chaos? More destruction?

Sally [standing up on her chair now]: YES!!

Sadie [cradling her forehead in her hand]: Sal, my God.

Sally [pointing at Sadie from her perch on her chair]: And you! You’re always fucking agreeing with Suzie!

Sadie [indignantly]: That’s not true!

Sally [leaning down toward Sadie’s face, tauntingly]: Grow a pair of balls!

Sadie: Get the fuck down from the chair!

[Sally stays up on the chair. She tries putting her hands on her hips in a somewhat defiant posture, but soon hangs them again at her side. A few moments pass and her position becomes increasingly ludicrous. Finally she clambers back down and sits on the chair. Sadie shakes her head and makes a dismissive sigh. A few more moments pass. Sally seems to calm down a bit, like she’s been satisfied.]

Sally [checking her watch]: You know the funny thing is?

[Suzie and Sadie peer at her warily.]

Sally: The funny thing is, it’s ironic. It really is! [She looks around genially.]

Suzie [sarcastically]: Uh-huh.

Sally: Suze, I know you’re upset right now, but I’m not kidding.

Suzie: Whatever.

[Sally nods very rapidly, grinning exaggeratedly, a bit cartoonishly. Suzie contemplates saying something reproachful for a moment but then her face falls and she starts laughing. After a moment Sadie starts laughing too. Bit by bit, Sally joins in the laughter. A few moments pass.]

Sally: Any minute now!

Sadie: What?

Sally: Any minute now. You’ll see.

[Sadie and Suzie look at each other, bemused. A few moments pass. Enter Andrew. Sadie and Suzie look up at him, surprised. They get up and greet him in turn, saying “Hi Andrew!” and making chit-chatty remarks about how they didn’t expect to see him here and what a nice surprise it is. Andrew sits down beside Sally and they hold hands, smiling widely.]

Sally: So!

Suzie: Here we are!

Sally: Here we are! And… [Sally looks toward Andrew and he looks at her; they gaze lovingly in each other’s eyes for a moment. To Suzie and Sally, trying to suppress some emotion in her voice] There’s a reason I wanted to get together with you two today. Andrew and I have an announcement. [A moment or two pass. Sally is visibly becoming more emotional; she can barely keep from crying. Looks of anticipation and wonder take hold of Suzie and Sally’s faces.] Andrew and I are getting married!