Tuesday, March 27, 2018

I'm Sorry

I saw the van turning but I had the right of way. I kept walking. It kept turning. For a moment I thought: I’m not going to run away. I’m right. He’s wrong. I’m going to keep on walking. But he was turning, turning, speeding up. So I ran. I ran to the other side of the street.

He’d stopped now—after he saw me running. I stepped up to the window.

“Hey! What the fuck are you doing!?” I screamed.

I saw a flash of defiance on his face. Like he was going defy me. New York City, not fuck me, fuck you. But then he mouthed the words “I’m sorry.” Chinese guy. Delivering for some Chinatown business, a pawn shop, a restaurant.

“Be careful!!” I screamed again, my voice rasping and breaking.

Again he said “I’m sorry.” Gave a little smile. I’m sorry.

Monday, March 26, 2018

The young man thrust his hand between the closing doors of the subway car. Now his forearm was gripped tight by the black rubber gaskets. He made no effort to withdraw. His fingers clenched and curled as though they might summon the rest of his body through somehow. Then his hand wilted and dangled in midair. It was in the car and he was out. What would happen next? No one cared or even seemed to notice. But something was bound to happen. The doors opened again.

Saturday, March 24, 2018

A couple fighting on Seventh Avenue. He’s approaching the door to their car as she follows a few steps behind. He says:

“You can go back in time and fix it!”

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

When I lifted the cutting board away from the faucet the wet wood emitted a striking odor—musty, winy—that immediately took me back to my childhood. But I didn’t know what it was it reminded me of. I was eight or nine, in our house in Storrs. What was it that smelled like that? Probably our wet cutting board.

On TV the race cars were under full-course caution because a cheap canopy and poles had blown onto the track. They type that always shade a table with credit card applications. There it lay crumpled on the edge of a corner as cars steered clear and a marshall waved his red and yellow flag.

On the first day of spring it’s been snowing all day and it’ll snow most of the night too. I like to be surprised by the weather but I decided to look. Here’s what the hourly forecast says for tomorrow: Mostly Cloudy, Mostly Cloudy, Mostly Cloudy, Cloudy, Cloudy, Mostly Cloudy, Cloudy, Mostly Cloudy, Cloudy, Cloudy, Cloudy, Cloudy, Cloudy, Cloudy, Cloudy, Cloudy, Mostly Cloudy, Partly Cloudy.

In the end there’s no way to really avoid surprises.


“You and the kids want a come stay with me?”
The beginning of a sports season is a celebration of renewal, of anything possible, of life. I always think this and make a mental note to mark it in writing, at the beginning of September for football for example. I want to recognize it and savor it. Then suddenly it’s Week 7, Week 8. I’ve been helpless against the current of time. But in a few days Formula One starts again, and here we are.

Monday, March 19, 2018

On the way in today the train slowed to a crawl. Through my earbuds I half-heard the usual catchall explanations: train traffic ahead, signal malfunction. Then through the window there was an MTA worker in his hardhat and safety orange vest. He was perched in the dark realm beside the track, on some kind of ledge above the trash and debris, braced against whatever he could find so he wouldn’t fall. Then there was another, then another. Just workers in the tunnel on a Monday morning, getting out the way of the train.

There’s a number 4 scratched in the gray-painted wall at the fourth-floor landing of the stairwell at my work. Someone must have done it with a key.

A crazy woman sat near me on the train home. She was angry, agitated. At someone, I thought, but then it appeared it as at no one at all. I tried to understand her. But there was no sense to what she was saying, just patterns. She looped the same words and phrases over and over again, in slightly different ways: white people, garbage, smell, cemetery, white children, get out, disgusting, white soul, white face.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

That’s the title of that Paul McCartney album. I wonder if that’s why. From the early ‘70s. An old TV with the interference. The horizontal hold. A beach somewhere. The sea. From an airplane. So you can see the waves but you can’t see them move.

Is this making me a better person? Then what do I do?

The beach, the sea, baseball. You think of baseball when there’s nothing else to think of.

The mind excretes thoughts. But the word is there. The word is back. Word, word, word, word, word. The psychedelic light show behind the eyelids. And the word.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

I stood on the beach and waved to my wife and daughter as they waded into the sunset. Just then a ganja man appeared. Just as they always do, just about all the time. This time I decided to buy.

“How much for a spliff?” I asked.

He looked over his shoulder and approached me furtively, like we were accomplices in a crime. Which we were I guess, but it’s a crime that occurs a thousand times a day on this beach. Maybe this was theater. Make the sunburned tourists feel a thrill.

“Here mon, here,” he said, and tried to press a handful of fat joints into my palm. “Forty.”

“I only want one, man,” I said, pulling my hand away.

“OK, OK, OK,” he said in a displeased, slightly disapproving tone. “Here you go mon.”

Now I had three in my hand. His eyes darted left and right.


“No, no, I don’t need three. How much for one?”

With great reluctance he took a spliff back from my hand, leaving two. I figured I wasn’t going to do any better than that.


I told him I’d be right back, I had to get cash at our place.

“Yeah mon, come find me. Come find me,” he said, and extended his elbow for a bump. “Ree-spect.”

Back at the villa I got my wallet and took out the cash, thinking to myself what it’d be like to burn a Jamaican beach dealer. Would he glower at me in my shaded chaise every morning as he passed by on his rounds? “Where da cash mon?” he’d ask, and I’d shrug my shoulders and return to my paperback. Or maybe he’d kill me with a knife. Drag my carcass into a powered dinghy and dump me out at sea. Really I had no idea what would happen.

I returned to the beach and found him a few paces from where we’d met.

“Here you go,” I said, placing the money discreetly in his palm, and I did feel that little thrill after all.

“Yeah mon! You wan’ anyting else you lemme know!” he said, and I knew from his tone he meant cocaine.

“Thanks,” I said, and turned away, not knowing whether I’d been ripped off, figuring I had, not really caring, with one more joint than I needed in the damp mesh pocket of my swim trunks.

Thursday, March 08, 2018

5 Life Lessons by the Grateful Dead

1. Let a thing be what it is

It’s not perfect. Far from it. Maybe it’s ugly and cantankerous. But let it do its thing. It may surprise you. It will likely surprise you. Just let it.

2. Take control

If you wanna take control, take control. Do it. No one’s gonna stop you. Do it.

3. Don’t take control

Resist the urge to take control. Let go. Avoid making decisions. Do not assert yourself.

4. You’re a small part of a big thing

Believe me. Don’t you forget it.

5. Doubt yourself

Your instincts are probably wrong. The way you feel is inaccurate. If you think A, it’s probably B.

Wednesday, March 07, 2018

The Crazy That Is Jennifer

Overheard conversation in the break room this morning, between two women:

“You’re here!”

“It’s not snowing!”

“I know—”

“I just didn’t, you know, I didn’t want to spend another day in my apartment.”

“I know.” She begins to back away and turn around. “So come over when you have something ready—”

“Yeah, I’ve got a call at ten. I’ll come over after and we can discuss—”


“You know. The crazy that is Jennifer.”