Friday, February 27, 2015

Last night as we lay sunken into the couch, I heard a car horn somewhere down the street. It honked insistently a few times, stopped, and started again. And stopped, and started again. Sara got up to look out the window but saw nothing. It started again, stopped. Started again. A voice isolated from the angry, insistent din that you hear when traffic is backed up at the Holland Tunnel. But with no traffic, no tunnel.

As I gazed dumbly at the TV I tried to imagine what could possibly be going on. A solitary figure in a car, possibly parked, not even running. This person’s mind was breaking. What kind of grief, what kind of horror, must a human contemplate to lose it like that? To sit in a car and honk into the void—to make this wordless howl of anguish—for the better part of an hour?

Then it stopped.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

After I dropped off Jackie yesterday I walked along 23rd Street and noticed a slender young woman on her phone, in the corner where some plywood wall or vestibule met the building side. I knew there was something about her. I slowed and stared. I realized she was sobbing.

“Mom, Mom! It’s going to be all right! It’s going to be all right!” I heard her say.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Who Are People?

Went to the Ear Bar today to meet N. for lunch. As I waited for him I observed the others at tables in the front room. Three men in shirts and ties were seated nearby. The waitress recited a list of soft drinks to one of them: “... apple juice, orange juice, water?” I heard her say. She was evidently at the tail end of a very unappealing speech.

“No, no,” the man responded. “Just water, please.”

“Get a drink,” one of his companions suggested.

“No! No. Unless someone else wants tequila. Ha ha!”

The man seated to his left, portly, in his mid-thirties, said in a serious tone, “Tequila on the rocks can be very, very nice.”

There followed some indistinct banter about alcohol.

“Don’t talk to me, I haven’t had a drink in three months,” the portly one said.

“Why not?” asked the older man across from him.

“Trying to lose weight,” he replied.

Which led me to wonder: Who are people? What the hell are they doing? And why?
The shoelace of my left shoe keeps coming undone. I have no idea why. Usually at work. I’ll get up to go get coffee or something and look down to find the laces flapping around and dragging on the floor. Or sometimes I catch them as they’re coming unraveled. The knot has opened like some kind of flower and the laces are slowly growing free. I can almost see it happen.

I have no idea why. Always the same shoe. The left. The right is fastened up the way it should. I walk by some people, wondering whether they notice my disordered state, whether they remember it from the day before. Then I finally find some chair somewhere to prop my foot on to tie them again, nice and tight this time, hoping somehow this will finally do it.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

There’s been that vibrant light the last couple of days, that light in the City when the red lights are bright, deep red and the pink of the sunsets is in all the windows.

I overheard a woman on her phone, walking down Sixth Avenue, telling her friend about a couple they both knew, how the guy keeps taking credit for the woman’s accomplishments. Rich. His name was Rich.

Friday, February 06, 2015

The Enterprise - 49

Bob, Fun and I were on our way to Sunshine for lunch when Bob kicked a can into the street.

“You’ve been doing more work with Tom,” he remarked. “How’s that going?”

“It’s going well,” I replied uncertainly.

“I have strong objections to resources with a given skill set drifting into unrelated roles.”

I told him I could see what he meant.

“I don’t think it’s healthy. It isn’t good for the company. It isn’t good for people.”

We continued wordlessly down Fifth Avenue, hands plunged into pockets at the cold, belching plumes of breath like car exhaust. Was that it? I wondered. Did he expect me to prattle on in response? Would he escalate this topic somehow? To Neil?

It was true my role was drifting. Toward product development, toward coding—not real programming of course but coding with the user-friendly interface the engineers out west had created—and away from whatever dubious thing I was originally engaged to do. Actually maybe I was still doing what I was supposed to do, but really doing it now, instead of typing up some dumb paragraphs in a Word document and attaching it to an Outlook e-mail for someone else to laboriously download, open, copy-paste from, reformat into the gizmo, check for errors, and commit to the repository. Now I was using the gizmo. It was inevitable. It saved me time and it saved everyone else time.

We got our falafel. Walked back up Fifth in silence. Then Bob and Lowell started talking about something. Joking around. And that was it. Bob never said a word about it again.