Monthly Archives: April 2014

It would have been nice to see the blood moon

I wanted to see that lunar eclipse a few weeks ago, but it was really cloudy and you couldn’t see the sky. I wanted to check out that meteor shower last night, I read about it during the day, but I’m only thinking of it now, and so I forgot about it, I never set an alarm, I didn’t make a note to look outside. Not that you can really see any space stuff here in the city. Still, it’s nice to go outside and try, like I did with that lunar eclipse, before the clouds rolled in, you could see the start of the beginnings of a shadow start to creep across the lunar surface. When I first looked up, I swear, it looked like there was a huge chunk missing. But my awe turned to disappointment when I realized that it was already a little cloudy, and that’s what I was looking at, a celestial fake-out, a tiny circular cloud floating for just a few seconds in the moon’s way.


I’m always looking for shooting stars, when I go upstate on vacation, I’m always instantly mesmerized by that view of the heavens that you’d never even imagine is there, hiding just behind the glare of the city night sky. I wonder if you live up there, do you take it for granted? Do you even bother looking up at all? Because after a minute or so my eyes adjust and my brain starts to look for stuff that isn’t there. I see all of these phantom spots and movements out of the corners of my eye, my neck starts to hurt from craning all the way up. One time I tried to lay out on the grass so I could just take in the majestic view of the cosmos, but all of these little gnats and bugs started landing on my face, buzzing just around my ears, I was inside after like a minute or two.

I think I saw a shooting star, once. I had just turned my attention upwards and, there it was, no question about it, directly in my line of sight, if that wasn’t a shooting star, then I don’t know if anything could really be a shooting star. And what got me the most was how fast it happened. It was the most fleeting of moments I’d ever experienced in my life. Like, when I was a little kid and I went camping with my cousins and we’d all stare at the stars, I used to think they were just teasing me, “Look! I saw one!” trying to make me feel left out. But yeah, it’s totally something that, if you’re not looking right at it, it’s gone, like if you happen to be blinking, that’s more than enough time for you to miss out on the action.

One time I saw a satellite, I think. It was definitely slow moving, and streaking across the sky in a straight enough line that, if it wasn’t a satellite, well, I’m pretty sure it had to have been a satellite. But this was kind of the flip-side of the night-sky coin, like it was almost too slow. I’m always looking for that perfect moment, my eyes landing on something happening out there, wherever, outer space, and this satellite is kind of just like, way too easy. There’s a brief moment of wonder, like I found something worth looking at. But after thirty seconds, after a minute, my brain started to make sense of everything, it’s a satellite, a piece of equipment that we shot up into the sky, and it’s catching the sun’s reflection. It doesn’t really pack that same sense of wonder.

I really wanted to see the stars from the city when the entire Northeast suffered a blackout during the summer of 2003. But I was somewhere in between Georgia and South Carolina at the time, behind the wheel, making the trip back to New York from Florida. I heard all about it on the radio, how everyone was gathered outside to catch this once in a lifetime crystal clear picture of the Milky Way, right from the middle of the city. As we sped north on I-95, I just kept thinking to myself, come on, just a little longer, just don’t fix the blackout for one more night, please.

But as we crossed into Delaware, pushing north to New Jersey, I noticed that all of the toll machines were working fine, that there weren’t any signs of traffic jams. And as the streetlights flickered on as the sun set, I stared up at the muted orange twilight and knew that I’d missed it, that maybe if I were lucky I’d be able to see the North Star tonight, maybe the moon, even on the clearest of nights, all you ever get up here is one star, maybe just like two or three stars in the entire night sky.

Walking in the wind

My wife and I went for a walk to the park this morning. Yesterday it was so nice out, when I left for work, I was only wearing a t-shirt and jeans. But this morning’s weather was noticeably different, I could feel it from inside the house, the window in the second bedroom was open just a crack, and it was significantly colder, way too cold for just a t-shirt. I grabbed a hoodie thinking that I’d be OK.


But I wasn’t OK. The wind was just way too powerful. Like I’m not even sure that a jacket would have helped much, because my face would have been equally assaulted by the wind. I think my dog was uncomfortable too. He’s kind of feral as it is, but these gusts, he just get squirming, fighting the leash, twisting his nose and his neck up and around, as if some sort of mysterious scent had been carried from far away, like he needed to follow a million phantom trails.

I always think about that, about my dog, about him running away. I don’t think he’d run away on purpose, but I could imagine him getting a whiff of some food or something from blocks away, and he’d be off, and that would be it. Would I ever see him again? I like to think that, yes, I’d find him, or he’d find his way back home, but it’s such a big city, and there are so many cars, and does he really know where we live? Like in relation to other buildings?

Whenever we go for a walk with the dog, we’re on the sidewalk, we’re going to pass other people. I get it, that not everybody loves dogs, but I don’t get how some people are so terrified of our pet. It’s like, we’ll be walking down the block, we see someone else walking in the opposite direction, and they’ll make a visible face of terror before crossing to the other side of the street. You really think my dog is going to bite you?

Of course it doesn’t exactly help that, every once in a while, the dog will be moved to jump toward a random person. He’s not violent at all, but he’s big, and stupid. It’s like when people come over the house, his first reaction is to jump all over whoever walks in the door. Yeah, I guess if you’re not used to it, or if you’re already somewhat nervous around dogs, this might not be the most welcome of gestures.

But yeah, today he was just totally unmanageable. He was pulling ahead, gnawing on his leash, barking at every dog that we passed on our way to the park. We always stop for coffee along the way, and usually we just tie him up outside to wait, but for whatever reason, he wouldn’t have it today. He just sat outside and howled, to the point where everybody inside the coffee shop was giving us that look, like what the hell is wrong with you? Go outside and take care of your dog.

We got to the park and it was even windier out in the open space. I spotted these plants in the middle of the grass and I told my wife, “Look, those are onions right there.” And it’s not like she wasn’t interested, but yeah, for whatever reason, I was very interested. “Onions?” I could tell she didn’t believe me. “Yeah, wild onions.”

And they were all just sprouted out of the ground. I made a plan, like I’d grab the whole bunch and just pull them right out of the dirt. But when I actually did it, when I put my hand around the sprouts and pulled, nothing came out, the green parts just all broke off. And yeah, they were definitely onions. I got that onion smell that hit me in the face all at once. Worse, it wasn’t a clean break, it was like all of those onion stems kind of got mushy and turned into a green onion paste that was now all over my hands.

“Gross,” my wife said, and yeah, I tried to play it off all cool, but it was pretty gross. I smelled like onions, and there was nowhere for me to wipe my hands off. It was kind of like earlier last fall, we were in the park and I saw these plants, it was definitely Swiss chard. “Look honey! Wild Swiss chard!” and I should have just left it alone, because as soon as I touched those green leaves, I noticed they were wet, and it hadn’t been raining out, and what if it was some dog or squirrel that had peed all over them? And I couldn’t wash my hands, I was so far away from home.

I don’t know why I can’t just admire the plants from afar. It’s not like I’m a forager or anything, I’m not going to take this stuff home and eat it. The next time I’m out and I see any sort of vegetables growing in the park, I just have to remember to keep my distance. It’s like, I get mad at my dog when he starts chewing on garbage, why is it OK for me to start pulling things out of the ground? I’m telling you, I washed my hands like five times since we’ve been back, and I can still smell it, onions, it’s like it’s in my nose, all the way up.

Eat fresh, baby

Sometimes I have no idea what I’m going to eat. I like to cook for myself, and ideally, I’d be preparing all of my meals in the house. But I go through these spells, they can last for days or even weeks at a time, where any motivation I have to plan ahead and go to the grocery store just evaporates. I wind up jumping from meal to meal, forever stuck in the moment, nothing in the house to satiate my unstoppable hunger, no choice but to go out and buy something fast, something quick.


I had Subway for lunch. It’s fine. I like Subway. But it’s just like, I don’t know, I go to Subway, I stand in line and wait for them to make my sandwich. There’s nothing about the process of getting a sandwich at Subway that really speaks to me anymore. That same feeling I get when I open up the refrigerator and see that there’s nothing inside is almost identical to what I experience as I wait on line for the Subway people to make my sandwich.

The Subway people at the Subway by my house are all foreigners, and whenever I go there, I can’t shake the feeling that they’re all kind of judging me, all of us, anybody who goes to Subway to eat Subway. I imagine them going home and saying stuff like, “These Americans, these idiots, lining up every day to eat this … this stuff … this whatever it is,” having a good laugh at the idea of selling us these five dollar foot longs.

I only say this because one time I was waiting on line for a sandwich and I saw one of the employees run outside. He came back later with a bunch of takeout from an ethnic restaurant. They work in a Subway, and they don’t eat Subway? I thought, man, that food looks good, much better than this sandwich that I was about to eat. But I was already invested in this line. It took me quite a while to make that conscious decision, to get out of the house, to make that walk down the block. Changing plans now that I was already this deep, well, it just wasn’t going to happen. I had to be content with the knowledge that these Subway employees might at least get some pleasure out of their food. I wonder if they ever eat Subway, or is just strictly business for them, a vehicle to make money and nothing else.

When I went to Subway today, there was a guy my age behind the counter. He was clearly new, because every time he tried to do something, he did it really cautiously. Like he carefully chose his words, asked people the same question multiple times. Every time he started an action, the manager would yell at him in a different language and take over, telling him to start doing something else. He’d start doing another task, and the process would repeat itself as he was continuously chased from job to job.

It was beyond uncomfortable, the way the boss didn’t really have any sort of awareness of how loud she was barking at this poor guy. She had originally started to make my sandwich when she caught him improperly placing the toppings on a sandwich further down the line. She relieved him of duty and sent him to finish setting up my order.

He kind of just looked at me, wide eyed, totally confused, “Uh … did you want this toasted?” And he made it halfway through spreading the tuna before the manager swooped back in to show him the correct way to put out individual slices of cheese.

As a different employee rung me up and swiped my credit card, I heard more screaming behind me, followed by an, “I’m sorry he’s so slow!” to a customer to my left. This guy was beyond patient, “No, it’s OK, everybody’s got to learn, right? I was the same way on my first day, very careful, making sure everything was perfect.”

And the manager just kind of glared, almost visibly insulted that the customer hadn’t sided with her, shared the contempt for this employee that couldn’t work fast enough. I could picture her thinking to herself, “Oh yeah? You think that makes it OK? It’s not OK. That guy’s not your boss. I’m your boss.”

I got home, the sandwich, whatever, it’s a Subway sandwich. I almost wished that I could just teleport it directly inside my stomach, to save me the ten minutes or so I’d actually have to spend chewing, swallowing. All of that yelling before, all for a sandwich, something way too basic to get so bent out of shape over.

I’m ready for the future

Some people get so freaked out about the pace of technological advancements. But not me. I’m all for futuristic technology. Like the new Robocop movie. I didn’t see it, mostly because the old Robocop was so awesome. But throughout the whole Robocop franchise, it’s like this warning, about technology, about robots and cyborgs. It’s the same with Terminator. “Watch out!” is the message. The machines are taking over.


But me, I’m embracing that futuristic vision. I want to be more machine than man. If they ever need people to sign up as volunteers to have cybernetic implants or whatever, I’d be first in line. Because seriously, I already spend so much time interacting with my computer, my cell phone. Having all of that stuff seamlessly integrated into my body is the next logical step.

Put a cell phone screen in my eyes. It can’t be that hard. Just take out one of my biological eyes and replace it with a smart device. Like, I’d still be able to see regular when I want to, but instead of having to reach into my pocket every time I think I feel my phone buzzing, I could just react and respond without even having to look away from what I’m currently doing.

Just keep adding stuff. I wish I could get a flashlight implanted right above my ears. That way I’d never have to look for anything in the dark. I’m talking bright flashlights, like car headlights. Different colors too. And I want laser pointers somewhere inside of my fingers. So I could just point at something and have it illuminated with a crisp red laser dot.

And I’m so sick of wearing headphones. Wouldn’t it be cool if you could have two-way speakers where your ears are? Have them plug in directly to my brain, make them stronger and more sensitive than my human eardrums. No longer will I have to worry about listening to my music too loud. Make it even louder, crank it up, as loud as my brain can take it. And then if I’m sitting there on the subway and someone’s like, “What are you listening to man?” I could play the music outward also.

I wouldn’t even need a voice anymore, not a human one. Just give me one of those two-way speakers and install it where my throat is. So I’d be able to speak in any type of voice that I want. And hook that shit up to WiFi man, that would be great, I could hook up my voice to Google Voice, or to Google Translate, and I’d be able to talk to anybody I want to, in any language, at whatever volume.

No, you know what? We don’t even need speakers. Just make everything Bluetooth, OK, a Bluetooth brain. I want the music streamed right into my head. And if you want to say something to me, just send it over the airwaves, all right, that’s how we’re all going to communicate, it’s all going to be over WiFi.

And I was just going to say something like, replace my arms with really strong robot arms, but then I was thinking, why not just add robot arms to complement my human arms? Give me like four extra arms. I mean, I have all of this space on the side of my torso. There’s no reason why I shouldn’t have six arms. Legs, I think I’m kind of out of space, unless some engineer could figure out where to fit more legs. But yeah, I’d rather have really fast robot legs than human legs.

Just, give me the works, all right, I don’t want to wait around for the future. I want to be the future. I want to be a cyborg, just much better than I’d ever be able to get naturally, by myself. Sign me up, I’m ready for the future.

At least I’ve got this

I get so worried that I won’t be able to come up with anything to write about. This anxiety is most acute when I open up a brand new Word document, I hit the full screen viewing mode so as to block off any other stimuli, and the result, for a second anyway, before I type out the first word, is me staring at this glowing white rectangle, just pure LCD light positioned not even a foot away from my face.

Maybe that’s the source of a lot of my worry, that I have to stare at this screen. Is it any different than staring at a blank piece of paper? I like to think that it’s different, that if I were living ages ago and I made up my mind to write something, that there’d be a lot less pressure for me not to waste my time. If a minute goes by and I haven’t thought of anything to write about, that’s fine, that’s just a minute. But two minutes, five minutes, my eyes are already starting to hurt from staring into this flat screen light bulb.

Ten minutes and I’m starting to sweat. The feeling that I’m getting when I can’t come up with anything is somewhat familiar. I love to draw, but I never really pursued it like I did writing. To a big extent, I was never able to get past that fear of a blank page.

I guess fear is a strong word, I don’t want to come across as dramatic or anything. But even as a little kid, I’d get out my crayons or colored pencils or whatever, I’d lay everything out just right, and then I’d wind up staring at a piece of white, not really sure how to get going. Invariably I’d wind up drawing some version of Spider-Man, a kind of tic, like instead of facing that fear, that feeling like I’m not good enough for the page, I just put down anything.

It’s still one of my go-to drawings, Spider-Man. It’s one with the muscle memory of my right hand. I could probably draw a pretty decent Spider-Man if I were blindfolded. Which isn’t really saying anything, not about drawing, or making anything. It’s just a way of dealing with the fact that a lot of the time I have no idea what I’m doing, or even what I’m supposed to be doing.

I guess writing about not having anything to write about is kind of like the written equivalent of those Spider-Man doodles. It’s a trick that I fall back on way too often. For every one of these posts that make it up on this blog, there are at least five or ten that thankfully never see the light of day. But it’s just something that I have to work through. Often it’s mandated by time constraints. For example, I have to work a double shift at the restaurant today, and so in order to get any writing done, I had to wake up early, sit myself down, commit myself to moving my fingers for a fixed amount of time.

Talk about pressure, I don’t have a moment to stare out the window, let my mind wander. No, I’ve got to get going. If these two hours pass by and I don’t have any work to show for it, it’ll drive me nuts the rest of the day. It’ll make me question whether or not I have what it takes to be a professional writer.

It’s better than nothing, that’s what I have to tell myself about writing like this, that I’d rather have something shitty than nothing at all. And I guess I can live with that, knowing that I at least made use of my time, that I forced myself to sit down and crank out something tangible, something that I can look back on and maybe use as motivation for a future date when I struggle to get words down on the page.

I’ll think, well, I did it then. Certainly whatever I put down now can’t be any worse than that. Right? And that’s something. It’s definitely not nothing. At the very least, whatever happens with the rest of my day, at least I’ve got this.