Friday, August 17, 2018

On my way to dropping off Jackie at camp I thought of something to write about—nothing great, but something. An event in my everyday life, possibly a recurring event. It occurred to me: of course that’s something to write about. Why wouldn’t it be? It’s exactly the sort of thing to write about: mundane yet amusing, emblematic of city life, or modern life. And I can’t remember it at all.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

The Enterprise - 55

Alan was among those spectral figures who are spoken of in deferential, even fearful tones, who see you as a box in the org chart with a salary below your name though you don’t see them at all, unless you did that one day they left the elevator and you were going in, you’ll never know, but they’re always hovering, watching, paying the bill for the candy, paying the bill for the heat: the VC guys.

For years I’d heard of him like a rumor. Now he was here.

Like a conquering king, he gathered us round the back of the office to declare himself the new CEO. He paced a little back and forth and spoke with a lisp that made him spit a little. In people like me such an impediment would make us tremble with shame and self-loathing; in him it seemed a mark of authority. He introduced himself, saying some of you know me, some of you don’t. He was from the VC firm, he said—SkyClimber.

“You’ve all been pretty patient and I think you’ve put up with a lot, really, honestly I do,” he said. “I think you deserve for some changes to be made.”

Alan delivered a kind of cynic’s motivational speech—one that took into account the absurdity of our industry, the fruitlessness of our efforts to date, the uncertainty of success. Promises remained vague and threats unspoken. But somehow at the end of it we didn’t feel too bad. Maybe even better.

In the days and weeks thereafter things did change. Gradually, without fanfare. I overheard Dennis and Peter chatting at Peter’s desk as I walked by. Dennis seemed shorter to me than usual.

“Yeah, yeah, yeah, it’s just, it’s time, you know,” said Dennis.

“Ah, OK,” Peter replied awkwardly.

“Things are just getting. Yeah.”


“You know, too…”

“Yeah, too…”

“Too… too. Too too!” Dennis concluded with a wan smile.

And that was the end of Dennis.

One evening at about six or seven, the office half empty, I sat working on code when shouting erupted from the conference room. Alan and Sam. It was about priorities, the future of the company, big-picture stuff. But they insulted each other venomously. One would assert and the other would protest NO! NO! NO! As though something deeply, personally offensive had been proposed. They went around in circles like this, stepping over each other with ever louder, angrier interjections.

It was still going on when I left. And that was the end of Sam.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

On the Roof

The planes flew overhead as usual, maybe a little low on account of the clouds. In the distance the city trembled ever so slightly from all the noise you couldn’t hear.

A few houses down a family was having a barbecue. Dad at the grill. Mom and the little ones up some steps, sitting on a fancy outdoor couch. Look at them, eating at a proper time. With the nice grill and the good outdoor furniture. How much richer they must be than us, I thought. How much better. And then I thought, how could you think a thing like that?

As I drove a nail diagonally through the table, hoping finally to fix that part that’s always breaking off, I became aware of a din across the street. It was a woman screaming. I paused to try to make out what she said.

“You tell her! You tell her! You tell her!” she howled, on the edge of articulation.

Then: “You’re killing me! You’re killing me!”

No one seemed to reply. Or if they did, they did so quietly.

Tuesday, August 07, 2018

In Birthday Room #3 there was pizza and soda for the kids, pizza and water for the parents.

As their photos played on the screen on the wall they all shouted “Me!” when it wasn’t them and “Not me!” when it was. Like they’d all just discovered irony. Like the apes at the beginning of 2001, using a bone for a weapon. Evolving.

You look on the internet a minute and you find that the guy in the ape suit from that movie was a friend of John and Yoko’s and he wrote a book about his years hanging out with them except now he’s battling with Yoko about can he ever put it out, and anyway now is 2008, so who knows anything, really? For the love of God.

I yelled at a car again, someone driving at me in that tricky intersection of 7th Ave and West 4th. But see, I had the light—the walk signal. All the cars think it’s like an off ramp from a highway ‘cause it’s at an angle but it’s just like any other city intersection where you have to constantly remind yourself not to kill people—they have the right of way.

I held my hand up at him, the universal signal for stop right there. He was still coming and I was walking slow. He slowed and steered behind me, reluctantly, obviously enraged, flipping me off and shouting whatever from his hermetic, upholstered realm.

“It’s a red light, asshole!” I screamed, loud enough for him to hear, which felt good, but it wasn’t exactly true, which felt weird—he did have a green light, but he had to stop for me—but all in all it felt good all the same.