Letter 6

Dear _____,

I’ve been negligent in my correspondence. So what else is new.

The weather is colder and our kittens are very clingy.

Since September I’ve been writing in a (nearly) daily diary, using Lynda Barry's template. This exercise has taught me that I miss the natural world. During one fall foliage weekend in Pennsylvania my notes explode with trees and ponds, but in New York I hunt to find nature. Lacking flowers, I search for floral patterns on strangers’ clothing. Lacking mountains and oceans, I contemplate skyscrapers and molding. I rarely think to draw animals. I find it easier to remember what I’ve heard than what I’ve seen.

We care for three succulents now. Two I bought from Home Depot (one of which is dying), and one brain cactus (Euphorbia lactea ‘Cristata’) which my parents gave to J.P. as a birthday gift, driving it from Florida to New Jersey to Cambridge, as is their wont. (Later in the year they drove Becky’s lemon tree around the tri-state and joked it was their grandchild.) The brain cactus’s journey stretches further back to Uncle Marty’s yard in West Palm Beach. I hope it survives the Kips Bay winter.

I have been experimenting with a “productivity system”: Getting Things Done. Clarify, Capture, Organize, Reflect, Engage. I am ambivalent about its success, but “capturing” everything has seemed helpful. The past six months of my life has been brought to you courtesy of lists and lists and lists. I give it credit for making progress on that elusive resolution.

I sang in a holiday concert. Audience members remarked that the program was “dark.” Yes; I mean, what year have you been living in? Our need for a little Christmas is urgent this year. I’ve grown a little leaner. (False.) Grown a little colder. (Eh.) Grown a little sadder. (Hm.) Grown a little older. (True.)

In April, Erica sent me the poem “A Morning Offering” by John O’Donohue. I recite the line “To break the dead shell of yesterdays” like a mantra since then, mentally adding an exclamation point. And I mull over Joan Didion’s sentence: “The Sacramento papers, however, simply mirror the Sacramento peculiarity, the Valley fate, which is to be paralyzed by a past no longer relevant.” I’ve got to tell you that I loved Victor LaValle’s The Changeling.

Jessica said, “I found love in a hopeless place,” speaking of our hometown. (I understood. But isn’t that what we all think, anywhere?) Bob told Emilia he would ask her to marry him every day. On the same day, my father’s friend wished my parents a happy 45th anniversary. I wonder what happened to him, what happened to them, and history warps in a widening gyre.

For some holiday cheer, these are lines I heard or overheard this year that I love:
There’s nothing worse than an unenthusiastic step-touch.
I’ll talk to these New York girls and they’ll be like, “Damn, Daddy…”
It’s…annoying how much I fucking love this country. This country hates the shit out of me.
I’m the king rat.
There is no sax quartet.
T-Shirt Cannon Baby Jesus?
Being the best man is kinda like jury duty…
I got 99 problems but likeability ain’t one.
I mean, you went with me to get my nipples pierced, so I feel like I owe you.
We don’t know much and we don’t have much.
I’ll fucking get hit by a bicycle or whatever.
You know me and tequila.
I have a fourth leg.
Drag Cat!

Dennis takes my arm when we walk up 6th Avenue after rehearsal. Or he uses my shoulder as a prop to lean his elbow on. He does this with his other friends, too. The easy way he drapes his body on us, it reminds me of you.

Things I still have faith in at the end of 2017: women, music, science, God.

I spent too much time abusing my phone. Andrea wrote me about an app that sends five random daily reminders that you will die. It might be a good idea to invest.

Just fucking get on with it. No one is going to give you permission.

Just fucking
get on
with it.
No one
is going
to give you

Just fucking
get on with it.
No one is going
to give you permission.

I have been playing with line breaks. I have been telling myself it is okay to play with line breaks.

An internet yoga instructor asked her audience to consider the breath as the spirit. This idea is comforting. I am breathing. The spirit is here.


Brian's Favorite Things

The only therapy I ever had was a Christian summer camp that tried to make boys less musical.




How to Buy a Car Without Interacting With a Human by Nicole Cliffe is one of the most useful things I've ever read on the internet.


This Is What a Gay Relationship Looks Like

"We have to do this together for karaoke. But we have to decide who's going to sing which part. I think I would be Monica."



Nana Had a Blue Husband

-- Line for a poem, or a song title.


Come and Knock on Our Door

Do you know what is a great feeling? When you find yourself in a little room at the edge of the world, upon hearing a knock on the door, you open it to see two friends from the waywayback. And with arms open you embrace and laugh.


Dear Erin

Dear Erin,

After reading about how Penelope Gazin and Kate Dwyer invented a male cofounder to deal with sexism when they launched Witchsy, I clicked through to see what Witchsy was. When, what to my wondering eyes should appear, but a sweater crop tank!

As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, the breasts are the eyes of the torso face.

Your bosom friend,



All Her Odes

I loved Odes by Sharon Olds. All her odes! To the hymen, to the condom, to the tampon, to the dirt. To the corner she was stood in, to pine trees, to her fat. To withered cleavage and amaryllis, to the word vulva, to the wind. You have expanded my notion of what language can do, o "wild original scribbler!"


I Run This Shit

Yes, Kesha! Woman.


Everybody Lies

Everybody Lies: How Google Search Reveals Our Darkest Secrets, by Seth Stephens-Davidowitz. Interesting sections on "hidden explicit racism," reactions to Obama's San Bernardino speech, and biases against young girls.





More Beautiful

But one day your shit will be unbelievably together
One day you’ll care a whole lot you’ll always take vitamins
And exercise without bragging and words will fit perfectly
Into your mouth like an olive soaked in gin
The glory of an olive soaked in gin & its smooth smallness

Also, how great is the first line of this poem in response to my favorite Gaga song, in the voice of Queen Bey?

“Girl you know you ain’t that busy.”



Trump has no desire and no capacity to lead the world, ABC's (Australia Broadcasting Corporation) Chris Uhlmann on the G20.

America, Please Stop Feeding the Trolls, Lauren Duca

12 Truths I Learned from Life and Writing, Anne Lamott. (H/t to Austin Kleon's weekly newsletter, which I have been enjoying. I kinda wish everyone sent me weekly newsletters now.)


Fuck Yeah Shirley

I am reading Rabih Alameddine’s The Angel of History. “It was hopeless, though, hopeless, and I realized that even as I showered the ingenues with a fusillade of fuck-yous. My screaming lacked punch, my late fuck-yous lacked the early oomph. I was done.”

“…And no one could understand why you’d put your zip code and even your apartment number in a poem, and I told him because it rhymed.”

All wrapped up in my unabashed obsession with memory. The familial affliction. In this house I still call it Nana’s room.

“You two have always worked together, the angel of remembering and the master of Lethe. You can’t forget if you don’t remember and you can’t remember without forgetting.”

At night across-the-street voices whirl in the room, a karmic reply to parties past. Shotgun fireworks then car door slam then tires roll. All this dissolves in my love for morning, the windows thrown open to welcome the light and the wind and the insects buzzing.

But to truly understand it here, please know: “I don’t want to flush this toilet until he’s done mowing, in case shit goes flying out the side there.”

I saw a bird flitting among the reeds near the road to the marina and thought maybe it was Anne. Do you, too, sometimes see your ancestors or childhood babysitter guiding your way? Later, tracking a black spider traversing the upper edges of the bedroom wall, I thought it was my maternal grandfather, for if there is a trickster among us it’s him. And did a firecracker spring from his head? Well of course I’m exaggerating, caught up reading about a poet who hears the voices of Satan and saints, and then I did just watch Moana, whose grandmother returns as a manta ray.

Her father’s daughter, I think, opening the soft cooler to which she has affixed a twisted green paper clip to solve the problem of a missing zipper pull.


Letter 5

Dear _____,

Listening in on these phone calls to review contracts, I think Maybe I should have been a lawyer. They are fixated on language, the intent behind words. Meanwhile my work has predominantly focused on the meaning in numbers. But recently, the question I ponder from a media planning perspective is how to find people.

Still, in the off-hours I can be preoccupied with language. I have been wondering about “the bagel place.” Do you want anything from the bagel place? I never call it a shop.

The most charming aspect of my office is a tiny bit of graffiti visible from one of the windows. At first I thought it was inscribed in chalk, but the words remain on a brick chimney opposite the
building. Perfectly legible but too far to capture with my phone’s camera. I enclose my latest attempt.


Saturday we dressed for a wedding. I worked myself up into anger over a blood stain on my shirt collar. This has always been me: spilling, staining, ripping, losing. It soured my mood, just before we hailed a cab in the humid gray afternoon. At the restaurant, a gaggle of perfect gays—tailored pants, pocket squares, fans, and the right amount of chest hair peeking through the unbuttoned collar—compounded my self-loathing.

The blood reminded me of the beginning of The Goldfinch.
Whenever you see flies or insects in a still life—a wilted petal, a black spot on the apple—the painter is giving you a secret message. He’s telling you that living things don’t last—it’s all temporary. Death in life. That’s where they’re called natures mortes. Maybe you don’t see it at first with all the beauty and bloom, the little speck of rot. But if you look closer—there it is.
I spoke to my aunt that day. She said, “If they told me, ‘We’ve done all we could do’ then my heart would be broken.” Matter of fact.

We saw a rainbow after the storm. In Greenwich Village, in Jersey City, in the hospital in New Brunswick. Of course we prayed it was a sign.

On Sunday they hugged and my aunt said, “We have to pray to our mothers.” My mother said, “Pour some of that holy water on him. It worked for Lauren.” On the car ride to dinner in Whippany, my parents, my cousin, and I all agreed it couldn’t hurt.



Giorno’s best-known creation is probably his “Dial-A-Poem,” a short-lived venture he started in 1969, to allow callers to partake of the pleasures of a poetry reading in the comfort of their own digs. Happily, Dial-A-Poem has been reinstated for the summer. You can reach it at 641-793-8122.
Via WNYC: Deborah Solomon's review of "I ❤️ John Giorno."


Letter 4

Dear _____,

I’d like to go on vacation with you, somewhere we could walk and talk about nothing.

I searched my e-mail the other day, and in the results came a message from you recounting a conversation with a man, P. I racked my brains trying to remember what that letter stood for.

Would you be interested in a children’s book about a sex-changing frog called The Life & Times of Lady Mary Harper P.? We cooked up this idea on vacation in North Carolina, and it keeps returning to me.

(As a word of advice, don’t read The Handmaid’s Tale over your friend’s wedding weekend.)

I was thinking about how for a short time many years ago, a pressing concern was how to seem physically attractive to straight men. Maybe we could compare notes on this during our vacation walk.

I dreamed you were leading me over rocky dunes in a thin fog. Wuthering Heights by way of Cape Cod.

What is the opposite of rare form? That is how my family was last weekend in Cambridge. We drank too much (except for my mother) and said funny things and cursed under the pergola. Wisdom of my father, mishearing someone discuss why they could not have a drink while on medication: “But where can’t you drink? In church, maybe.” Wisdom of my mother, analyzing the preponderance of family Geminis and their diverse personalities: “It has to do with the stars, and time of day, and all that bullshit.” Practical wisdom of my sister: “I’m not leaving without a piece of goddamn cake.”

The temperature has spiked. Seasonal string of restless nights. J.P. reconnected the A/C. It takes me cycling through many positions before settling into sleep.

In elementary school, a kid in my class had a sleepover party for his birthday. It was a big deal. His mom was our Cub Scout Den Mother, and a lot of boys were invited. The family lived in Trailwood, which back then was the newest development in our small township. The way our parents spoke about it, and the size of the houses, and its placement on a hill, gave the neighborhood a privileged, glamorous status.

At the party, we used markers to decorate Rubbermaid storage boxes. We ran around the driveway. We stayed up late. I had a blue sleeping bag with yellow lining. It was hard to sleep. Kids threw food at each other. My friend Matt was across the room, sleeping on his stomach. He did not sleep in a sleeping bag. He didn’t wear pajamas. He only wore white briefs with a thin red stripe on the waistband. They pelted him with pretzels. He ignored it, head resting on his stacked fists.

When I can’t sleep, when I flip onto my stomach, I remember this image of him.

On the drive from Cambridge to the Route 128 train station, my mother listed the three best financial decisions she and my father made. Number two on the list was opting to stay in the Whippany house, and not move to Trailwood, which they had thought about doing. That was news to me.

I still want to go to the desert, all because of learning about Georgia O’Keefe in fifth grade. The desert tugs at me when it appears in other art. I shopped around for coloring books for my nieces’ birthdays, and again I was dismayed that all the adult coloring books contain page after page of small, intricate patterns, gardens and Mansard roofs. I want to color a giant fucking flower!

You told me about a high school friend. She wrote a fantasy? The characters were based on your cohort. She cast you as the dreamer, or the wanderer, or the knight.

But now I’ve wandered far from shore. It brings to mind the Jack Spicer poem “Any fool can get into an ocean…”, which ends:
Any Greek can get you into a labyrinth
But it takes a hero to get out of one
What’s true of labyrinths is true of course
Of love and memory. When you start remembering.


Letter 3

Dear _____,

I slept so soundly the other night that it brought to mind a song lyric about dreamless sleep. It took all day for me to come up with it: “O Little Town of Bethlehem.”

I saw friends from the way back. Where will home be if B&D leave Whippany?

The developer has books unrelated to his job organized at his desk. Ray Bradbury, Margaret Atwood. Jesus Christ.

M said: “My grandmother told us, ‘When I die, I want that lady to play at my funeral.’ ‘Grandma, what lady?’ She meant Lady Gaga.”

But last night I dreamed. I was in a comedy where the romantic leads were Rachel Bloom and Andy Samberg. He pretended to take a shower by pouring a bottle of seltzer all over his face. This happened in silhouette, in a bedroom back-lit by light pouring through the slats of Eighties blinds (which is the only way I can think of to describe them to you).

I jogged to the East River and found a tree near Stuyvesant Cove with several flat stones fanned around its trunk. I sat and tried to meditate. I heard the rhythmic footfalls of runners, birds in the tree, and the sound of rustling plastic so near to me that I opened my eyes to find a fisherman setting up across the path. The whir of the FDR. Runners chatting. “Berlin is great! So flat.” A man’s voice directed squarely at me: “Hey, the Black Knight was just arrested for a DWI!” I puzzled over this but kept my eyes closed. He must have meant Harvey, the Dark Knight, in some trash-talking response to my Mets cap, but it was Tiger Woods that was arrested, wasn’t it? And who yells at a guy sitting under a tree? I'll have to try waking up earlier, I think.

A band from college wrote a song whose refrain came to me today: “It’s so hard to say anything these days.”


Letter 2

Dear _____,

Remember how you told us that when you had trouble peeing at a urinal, you thought of the theme song to the 90’s sitcom Living Single? And then, when I went to a public bathroom with you, standing there, I looked at you and laughed? And you mock-berated me for my breach of code of men’s restrooms? (No talking. No eye contact. Look directly at the wall.) Now sometimes when I am standing there, I think of this chain of events, and I chuckle to myself. Such behavior is also frowned upon. Je t'aime, as we used to say.



Dear _____,

Last time I saw you, you told me about how things ended with your boyfriend. Since then, on occasion, I’ll picture you in bed together, watching videos like you said. But visualizing this scene—t-shirts, bent heads—and lacking further context, the headboard was the one from my parents’ bed.

There is a mole on the back of my head. There is a president who wants us all dead.

There is a developer in New York City. He puts his palms to his lips; I want his hands on me.

I’ve even been toying with a pickup line over it: boy, you must be in my sensate cluster, because we’ve been fucking in my mind all day!

Imagine the reader, they advise to writers. You know you are sometimes the reader I imagine.

If I ever get around to writing fiction, I could make it an epistolary novel. I would write you about the disappearance of a mutual friend. I have not decided yet, but he might have vanished for supernatural reasons.

At yoga yesterday, the instructor played music from his phone during the class. At the end we lay there in corpse pose. “1979.” It was a cover. Not the original, which you put on a mix CD for my birthday.

The weather here is shit.

I went out to lunch with my boss. He thinks so differently from me that he is a good influence. He works, plays, rests with intensity. He told me he thinks of his life in five-year projects. “I only have four left!” It made me anxious. That was as good a reason to pick up a pen as any.

I took a break from writing you to consult an old journal. The writing is terrible, but I laughed to find a memory of my sister’s wedding. Arriving at the hotel, I found my grandmother sprawled on one of the queen beds in my parents' room. She greeted me with a hearty, “Brian, we’re drunk!” In the book I also noted a random daydream image: Medusa stepping from the shower, snakes detangled, hanging limply down her back. I could not find what I was looking for, or rather, I confirmed that I was right, that I hadn’t written about some night in Philadelphia. There are passing remarks on shitty things that happened, and a bizarre retelling of sharing Dixie Cup ice cream at Salem Drive School with my friend Mike.

Writing projects I have been thinking about: some short lines about cars, typing up notes from the Philippines, letters. I keep buying paper and then not using it. I wonder what you take with you.


Goji Berry Sunset

Spotify Discover Weekly crushing it: Goji Berry Sunset by Jealous of the Birds.



"I have to pick up my suit, pick up the dry cleaning, get my hair cut..."
"Remember mindfulness—be in the present moment?"
"I'll be in the present moment in a few minutes!"


Like the Piano

I'm enchanted by Sampha's voice and (No One Knows Me) Like the Piano.



At lunch, my friend tells me that the doorway to his apartment building was graffitied with the word "Fag." For the third time since March. The police think it may be the same person responsible for other vandalism in the neighborhood.


Long Overdue

Finally watched Paris Is Burning on Netflix. It's all there: reading, shade, voguing, and (surprisingly) Roy Rogers.


Poem in Your Pocket Day 2017

Happy Poem in Your Pocket Day! This year the poem in my pocket is "On Wanting to Tell [ ] about a Girl Eating Fish Eyes" by Mary Szybist.



On Nancy, Peter Bresnan says he was in love with Joe. Peter wrote sonnets, but Joe doesn’t know. T. Swift runs through boyfriends like it’s going out of style. Adele is always parting ways with someone in her songs. Aimee Nezhukumatathil is asked Are All the Break-Ups in Your Poems Real? Mine are real, and they’re spectacular. Kay Ryan says, “I could never ever write fiction. I have no idea what people are thinking.” Madeline Kahn as Mrs. White says, “Husbands should be like Kleenex: soft, strong, and disposable.” Meryl Streep says that Carrie Fisher said, “Take your broken heart, make it into art.” “It’s strange to imagine that it’s about us,” Joe says when he reads the poem years later. “This isn’t what I experienced…even a little. This does not describe what happened, as far as I’m concerned.” I say in the end what was worth more, the man or the muse?


Never Have I Ever

Never have I ever worked in an office with so much peanut butter.


Brian's Favorite Things

The teeth-brushing scene from Bring it On. Bonus: the dissolve from one pillow to the other!



I am excited about the new Nancy podcast from WNYC!

For me there is a tangential link to National Poetry Month. The second episode discusses the host Tobin Low's reactions to porn actor Brandon Lee. It reminded me of my bookstore browsing last weekend, when flipping through Chen Chen's When I Grow Up I Want to Be a List of Further Possibilities, I stopped to read "Jerking Off to Koh Masaki."



A small screeching came from the corner of the laundry room, behind the row of dryers. A mouse struggled in a trap of glue, dying next to dead kin.

A week earlier: Ash Wednesday. I asked forgiveness as I crushed a spider in the bath.

The week after that: book club argued was the narrator a sociopath.

Then that mouse, pleading, stuck. Not giving up.

Foolish, pledging to abstain from killing things for forty days.


O, She Says

O, She Says, by Hailey Leithauser.



H/t to chorus member Jesse.
"If we were a medical school, and you were here as a med student practicing appendectomies, you'd take your work very seriously because you would imagine that some night at two AM someone is going to waltz into your emergency room and you're going to have to save their life. Well, my friends, someday at 8 PM someone is going to walk into your concert hall and bring you a mind that is confused, a heart that is overwhelmed, a soul that is weary. Whether they go out whole again will depend partly on how well you do your craft." -- Karl Paulnack


Choralography Instructions

"Hide the bits!
Show the bits!
Judy's tits!"


The Flash

"This show is confusing."
"Maybe, or maybe it's your thing with time travel."
"What?! What 'thing' with time travel? I don't have a thing!"
(Why do I respond so strongly? What does it matter? It feels like he knows some detail about myself that I had refused to see, or wished to hide.)
"Wait, what do you mean? That I don't really like it? But I liked The Time Traveler's Wife..."
"Fine, you like time travel romances."


Blank Slate

Sitting alone in a cafe on Madison,
Enjoying a scramble of bacon, egg, and onion,
I overhear two women,
One of whom recounts her husband’s frustration
With some recent inferior decoration:
“I meant Bohemian! Not Overstated Bohemian!”



"Oh, that guy."
"You said he was in Royal Pains, but I always think of him as the eye doctor on Sex and the City. Or That Guy from the movie...She's...She's Out of Reach? Y'know, with Toni Colette and Cameron Diaz?"
"In Her Shoes?"


A Phone Call with Dear Michael (Y.)

I asked you if it's true that when it is the year of your animal you are supposed to buy new underwear.

You hadn't heard that, you said.

You asked me about physics, about the rate at which objects fall to earth. I thought of bricks and feathers.

You said the Year of the Cock is bad for cocks. But that the year is not as important as the day or hour of birth.

You said that balance is important. You have too much water. You need more wood and fire.

I asked you what the other elements are. (Earth, metal.)



Too much bourbon
buried names bubble up
burn my throat
threaten to burst out



I am writing a stupid poem about something I heard in Manhattan, while my friend's children are evacuated from a Jewish Community Center because of a phoned-in bomb threat.



From Ongoingness: The End of a Diary by Sarah Manguso:

Another friend wrote, “Marriage isn’t like having a boyfriend or girlfriend but a little more so any more than gold is helium but a little more so. The inner shell of electrons fills and then the next one goes into the next shell, changing everything.” 
Marriage isn’t a fixed experience. It’s a continuous one. It changes form but is still always there, a rivulet under a frozen stream. Now, when I feel a break in the continuity of till death do us part, I think to myself, Get back in the river.


Simply the Breast

Boobs are the new boobs.



The book I most enjoyed reading last year was Elizabeth Gilbert's Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear. She tells how she made a vow to writing. The vow was not that writing would have to provide for her, but a promise to spend her life doing it, to always stay close to it. Some of Gilbert's thoughts are written here.

So, thinking about the dedication of artists to the work. "Steal a camera if you have to, but stop whining and get back to work.” Last month I read Just Kids. The focus on the work is there in the lives of Smith and Mapplethorpe. Even watching the Super Bowl halftime show I was thinking about this, about Lady Gaga, theatrics aside, working her ass off (1) to get to that moment and (2) in that moment itself.

Today's professional research into Pinterest led me to click on a pin that took me to "Upper Moose Lake", from Am I Alone Here? by Peter Orner:
Lily accepts the fact that her mediocre paintings are going to end up either rolled up under someone’s bed or in an attic somewhere or, more likely, thrown out with the trash. Even so, she’ll paint. She’ll paint. What choice has she got but to paint? The only way to honor her visions of Mrs. Ramsay and those lost days is to try to get them down. Come what may. The failure to capture the vision is the vision.
This gets filed in my brain alongside the new mantra: "Nevertheless, she persisted."


Dear New York, This Is a Love Letter

"Home to the many, rejecting no-one
Accepting peoples of all places, wherever they're from" -- The Beastie Boys


Really Struggling Today

Really struggling today with the decisions of our new government and what defines "America." Have to find the joy in resistance so as not to be overwhelmed by fear. Exercise gives me a way to empty my brain. Rogue scientists give me hope.


My Mother

My mother, when happy, or especially when she receives a bit of good financial news, will clap her hands together and sing "We're in the Money."



Roll out of bed. Kill the alarm. Scramble up the spiral stairs. Rummage through coat pockets and fish out the headphones. Commence daily untangling. Plug the jack into the phone. Join the conference. Greet the others and mute the speaker. Open notebook, mark the date. As each person speaks, note their name. Indent. One new Roman numeral per person. Calm the cat that does not understand your lack of attention.

Spend two years considering in the recesses of your brain, at night, or on walks, the protagonists of two books. Stew in anger, in doubt at their lack of agency. Think about how “agency” is a word you have never used in that way. Think about the question posed, “When did you first know you were a powerful queer?” Struggle over an answer.

Go see the play. Delight in the blackout, the ghost illumined by flashlight, encounters with the Devil, escapes through rhyme. Go to the movies, remember the Devil; think how the stories that most moved a young you had witches, angels, or gods changing to cattle.

Listen to a recording of a poem in which there are no verbs. Bookmark it.

Send a message to an old friend. “Merry Christmas!” “Merry Christmas!”

Send a card to an old friend. Return to sender.

Send a message to an old friend. Message Send Failure.

Borrow the car. Get milk at Quick Chek. See an old friend. Hug. Trade family updates and compare dental problems.

Watch yoga videos. Fold forward. Focus on the breath.

Visit a church. Join in the songs. Listen to the pastor say we are headed into a tough period. Amen.

Read the news. Avoid the news. Read the news. Do not read the news before bed. Scan the news before bed.

Debate how to best engage. Decipher what she meant by “active constructive resistance.”

Sit at a Mexican restaurant in the East Village. Share guacamole and stories of who you each were in high school.

Withhold congratulations on his engagement, which you only know of through “social” media.

Make a list of the things you like in novels, and the things you dislike. On the list of things you like, include “coming-of-age stories, LGBTQ stories, stories with magical/supernatural/fantasy/sci-fi elements blending with real world, dialogue, memoir, stories about friendship or friend groups, mysteries sometimes.” On the list of things you dislike, write “stories that feel too preachy, violence, malicious unreliable narrators?”

Tell your family in a conversation about books: “I need someone I can root for.”

Wake in the dark. Dress for the cold. Start training for another relay. Regret selecting the indie playlist.

Take down the tree. Wrap the ornaments. Sketch a picture of the bow and the tree underneath an idea for a writing project: Whippany River Anthology? Contemplate how fulfilling it might be to write all those deaths.

Drink too much to start the new year.

Read Just Kids. Highlight “The things I thought would happen didn’t. Things I never anticipated unfolded.” Then listen to Horses.



Last year I embraced more completely the liberal cliche by subscribing to The New Yorker. (Shitting you not, as a gift for my donation to NPR!) I finally finished the election Aftermath edition and link to save it for the future.

  • "The hardest thing about democracy is the boring and irritating process of listening to people you don't agree with, which is tolerable only when each side strives not to hurt the other's feelings." -- Mary Karr
  • "There are many reasons for our troubles. But the deepest reason is inequality: the forms of political, cultural, and economic polarization that have been widening, not narrowing for decades. Inequality, like slavery, is a chain that binds at both ends." -- Jill Lepore
  • You might as well underline Toni Morrison's and Junot Díaz's whole essays


Jade, My Familiar

My familiar. Loud, affectionate, playful, pleading, selfish. Loathes the vacuum and the shriek of an unfolding ironing board. Bleached paw and marked forehead on black tortoiseshell fur. Her eye tears in a way she can’t control. Fearful of human sneezes but can tell when they’re faking. Wary, at first, of strangers, but warms to those who reach out to her. When she jumps she lands gracelessly with a grunt. I said once that her sister looks like the Platonic ideal of a cat, while she looks like what you’d end up with if you tried to draw one. Hunter of insects but less skilled at the kill. Chaser of sweatshirt hood laces, lover of sleep. Sometimes gets into things she cannot escape. Moonlights at daybreak as an alarm clock, shoving her head into my hand to fashion a caress. “Let’s cast some spells, Jade,” I came home and said.


New Year

Last year I avoided ResolutionPalooza (the annual effort to right the ship is welcome but a source of anxiety) by being in the Philippines. This year, I avoided it by feeling like death for the first two days of the year. And here we are!

There's only one big resolution this year: get married.

But what about this blog languishing here, visited by the occasional friend, family member, or spambot? The new year always brings some energy to creative projects. I think a realistic goal is to try to exceed the 57 posts from 2016. That is to say, a bit more than one post per week. Wish me luck.


Good As Hell

Thanks to NPR's Top 100 Songs of 2016, I'm trying to use Lizzo's Good As Hell as a mantra in the new year.