Friday, September 20, 2013

Full Stop

We park differently, and our parking differently betrays the existential divide between us. She is a confident huntress, sly and patient, always gunning for a closer spot, tightly orbiting her destination until her quarry reveals itself and certain that it will. Whereas I am quick to settle and reluctant to risk a worse predicament, always preferring sure-but-distant spaces to the fearsome uncertainty that lies beyond them—an uncertainty that breathes in joy and blows out dread, all fangs and tentacles, come to life for the sole purpose of slightly inconveniencing my passengers and me.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Meant To Be

When we began the excruciating process of shopping for a house, we unknowingly divided the world into believers and nonbelievers.

On the one side, those kind souls eager to comfort in times of frustration and hopelessness, urging patience and always seeming to draw your eye to some divine schematic that, enlarged properly, clearly illustrated the smallness of your heartbreak when viewed in the context of a grand design.

And me on the other, never really feeling the pull of fate one way or another, never convinced that the dead ends led to a destiny more fitting for me, even when that destiny threw open its doors, offered up some comfortable patio furniture and invited me in.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Ghosts of Beach Street

And there's always Chinatown, where I am anchored. An infinitely layered and relentlessly delicious playground for me in all my permutations: the friend eager to catch up over dim sum and coconut buns, the idle bachelor in need of a destination for a long summer walk, the boyfriend flirting over plates of squid and tofu and egg, the brother too heartbroken to finish his dumplings, the husband being repeatedly cued to wipe some remarkable sauce off his chin.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013



I was introduced to The Winter of our Discontent when I was just out of college, where I had studied literature a bit but had never really enjoyed it. It was one of a handful of books—Hell's Angels and The Illustrated Man among them—that opened me up to reading and imparted me with certain images I still love and will never ever shake.

The astronauts drifting endlessly away from each other in space, the boozy journalist beset upon by bloodthirsty hooligans, the semi-suicidal man walking into the ocean and back out again, a razor blade in his pocket.

I only mention them now because I have started re-reading The Winter of our Discontent and it is stirring up all those old fondnesses.

So I am remembering those old books and the girl who lent them to me. And I am thinking it's a strange thing, the way different people leave their marks on you.

Friday, August 16, 2013

In Very Fine Company

And looking at her across a plate of blood sausage and pickled cherry tomatoes, cozy among good friends and sleepy in the dim light, I breathed a great big breath and knew that things were good.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Socotra Notes, 3/19/13

There are flies on your toes, ocean waves in your ears, goat shit underfoot and great itching. There are army generals with bags of khat marinating between their teeth and the sides of their mouths, who, charged with sexual energy and far from their wives must walk down to the sea or go up to the mountain to cool down and sleep. The tea is sugary and the drums are made from sheep’s skin, warmed in fire and played for hours in the company of your curious guests. 

The men gather to eat and talk and the women orbit in dark veils and beautiful robes, with piercing eyes and giggling children. The beaches are littered with crab pyramids. The vultures have scraggly yellow heads and the ghosts of Indian House Crows haunt the trees. The sand dunes pile along the sides of great rock cliffs, rippling like ocean water. 

And the sound of Ismael’s voice is soothing and musical, flowing over everything and making every rock, every sandy stretch, every shrub, every ant, every hopeful hitchhiker, every great buzzing wasp, every delicious sweet potato, every premature date, every fisherman and goat herder and gas station attendant, every piece of garbage, every dusty jawbone, every severed goat leg, every drop of turquoise water, every bug bite, every bowl of fresh bread, every bottle of non-alcoholic Beck’s beer, every journal entry, every photograph, every call to prayer, every short-wave radio signal, every ache and itch, every dirt stain, every healing cut, every passport page, every winding road, every fly, every hand shake, every cup of tea, every star-eyed child, every fish carcass, every empty water bottle, every wet bathing suit, every civet cat sighting, every cushion, every conversation, every straining squat, every cramp, every circling buzzard, every flickering butterfly, every bare foot, every biscuit and every flat tire a part of his stories. 

And behind it all the hazy threat of spider bites and scorpion stings, a mild electric current that buzzes softly beneath the radio static, bird song and storytelling.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Guy Who Sometimes Slowly And Awkwardly Runs Short Distances Gets Hit And Killed By A Car

Sometimes when I’m jogging I worry that if I were to get hit and killed by a car, someone would write a headline that reads something like “Jogger Gets Hit and Killed By a Car.” It’d be a real insult to anyone remotely committed to jogging.