Monday, January 31, 2011

Where, walking South on Amsterdam Ave, the near-blinding snow-reflected light of the sun just above the spire of Holy Name Church coinciding with an unusually shrill, unusually long emergency vehicle siren passing through but in no way changing the concurrent and unremitting frigid air result in total sensory overload: a brief premonition of immanent death or what some Christians call rapture.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Where, through the blinds, the afternoon light suddenly insinuates itself into the sickroom: efflugent propaganda.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Where narrow passageways are cut out of the plowed snow at each intersection and because two people can't pass one another without touching unless one person steps back and waits like cars do on tiny, one-lane dirt roads, the city becomes a thrilling labyrinth of intimacy and confrontation.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Where a man crossing Amsterdam Avenue with his young son puts his hand up in protest like an exasperated crossing guard when an SUV comes to a rather abrupt stop at the light at 99th Street and the driver rolls down his window and shouts, "I understand if I'd run the light and you did that but really...really? I mean I stopped here so give me a break, huh?" and the man crossing the street draws the boy toward him, turns to face the driver in his car, and makes his sign of protest again.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Where, laden with fresh snow, the tree limbs are newly visible in chiaroscuro.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Where the ice and snow and slush conspire to bring down the bipeds who—buttocks clenched and eyes turned down—move slowly, slowly on, without appreciation.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Where at 8:35 am huge white snowflakes (so big they almost cast shadows as they fall) turn the city into a snowglobe.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Where, in the space of eight minutes, it is vigorous then bracing then stinging then bitter then aching then painful then bone-rattling as winter seeps into everything and there is no protection.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Where, from 11 floors below, the sound of the chisel is gip, gip, gip and then, the shovel, between ice and sidewalk: shooop, shooop, shooop.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Where a woman complains, “you barely give me any sign at all that you notice I’m alive,” and the man leaves the room and comes back with a “I notice you are alive” sign taped to his chest.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Where, while speeding down Broadway in the front seat of a taxi, the driver's body odor is almost intolerable until the three boys in the back seat open their bags of Utz red hot flavored potato chips and the smell of cayenne and garlic powder edges into the smell of old sweat.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Where, for hours and hours the entire country is gray and white—Stieglitz, Bresson, Adams—with no hint of technicolor.

Where, from the air, the brown, leafless tress in snow look like a coarse-haired animal hide under a microscope.

Where, just over the cusp of the Alaska Airlines airplane wing, Manhattan rises.

(Seattle to New York)

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Where the white building on the corner of Jackson and Third which served as a morgue when the 1917 flu epidemic wiped out nearly half the town is still there on the corner of Jackson and Third.

Where at 3:25 pm across from the land grant university the air is so clean and pure only its coldness makes it perceptible and at 5:20 pm in the same location the air smells like a ripe slop heap.

(Moscow, Idaho)

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Where, at 8:25 am in between the marshmallows and Sunchips in aisle 1a of the Winnco supermarket in the Palouse mall, a woman says to a man, "They told my dad he could control it with diet but he started losing one thing after all started with an in-grown toenail that wouldn't's insidious...listen, I don't want to scare you to death but you've got to take the bull by the horns."

Monday, January 17, 2011

Where, before sunrise, the three and a half year old boy wakes his mother and tells her, “In my dream we were walking in outer space with the stroller—just you and me—and I fell down a long long long mountain into the sea and I hurt my foot on a stick and I looked everywhere for you but I couldn’t find you anywhere,” and the mother gets up and goes off to the airport where she will fly far, far away, leaving the boy behind.

Where the propeller makes a loud and constant growl and through the thin drifting clouds, the mountains of Washington state are awe and terror and forever. (Seattle to Pullman, WA.)

Where at 4:38 pm the sun passes out of view leaving the sky above the strip mall pink and gray and yellow over the pale blue. (Moscow, ID.)

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Where the a small crowd of customers watches as the TJ Maxx manager says no when a woman tries to return a taped-up bag of Joe coffee and an opened box of Holly n’ Kids plastic birthday cake pieces that is missing the plastic cake platter and the woman shouts “these were GIFTS!” and makes such a fuss that the manager finally tells the salesclerk to “take it, just take it, I can’t take it” which means, in this case, the woman receives store credit for the ruined merchandise.

Where the 10 year old boy hurls hard-packed snowballs against a storefront until an elderly couple yells at him to stop lest he break a window and the boy’s father defends his son so then the couple chastises the father and walk away disgusted whereupon the father yells at his son until the boy runs off to find his mother saying, “I hate him” to his mother who has no idea who the boy hates or why.

Where, by the counter at the Starbucks on 93rd and Broadway, a stubbly faced man wearing a knit ski cap bumps into a man wearing a yarmulka and the man in the ski cap says, “Are you Jewish? I’m Jewish too so don’t worry!” and the man wearing the yarmulka shifts his Venti half-caff to the other hand, muttering, “I wasn’t worried,” and as he walks away the man in the ski cap shouts after him: “I’m Jewish TOO so you can just go on your merry way!”

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Where, through the soot-streaked window, the untrodden snow on the roof of the brick building across the way, looks almost clean.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Where, at the farmer's market, none of the meat or fish needs to be kept in freezer boxes it is so bitter cold and the men who sell Honeycrisp and Fuji apples and sometimes give their favorite customers a small cup of homemade whiskey don't even show up.