Allergy season

I thought I was going to get away scot-free. It was nothing like last year yet, when I’d have coughing fits so strangling that I would be stuck with my eyes streaming until the pollen let go of my throat. It’s been rainy and cool. The trees leafed out without incident.

I thought I was safe.

But no, this allergy season is merely delayed, my friends. The pollen is falling in a thick powdery blanket of menace. It’s my fourth spring in DC, and I know what’s coming based on how grumpy and itchy I am. This is just the beginning.

My kidneys itch. My liver itches. My emotions itch. Every inch of my clothes itches every inch of my skin. It’s as though someone has sprayed quite a lot of corn starch into my throat, and put sand all over my body. 

Why would they do this? 

Maybe it’s the plants’ revenge, or maybe just their triumphant aria, the price to pay for how quiet they go all winter, the celebration that WE’RE ALIVE, BITCHES. After being cooped up like that, battening down the hatches in the cold and wind, I totally understand the desire to let your hair down and scream a little bit. 

I just wish they wouldn’t demand that I scream along with them. 

Plants, listen: you want us to be able to breathe free and clear. We exhale that yummy CO2 that you love. Let us do it freely, please? 

But, really, whatever you need. I’m just glad you’re still around. I guess I can choke a bit for a few weeks in exchange for all the oxygen you make, keeping me breathing otherwise.

You’re right. I’m sorry I complained. Confetti the world with your gifts, friends.

Quaroutine: Running

I’m working toward running a 10k


Don’t get me wrong: I like running. Specifically, I like the 47 hours after I’ve done it, when I feel pretty good and also don’t have to do it again yet. 

But after a long break from being in running form, my whole body struggles against the levity that is required to yeet myself forward across space and especially up a hill. I’m a bit bottom-heavy, like an orc*, and the physics just aren’t there. 

Continue reading

Some days

Some days there isn’t much to say.

This wouldn’t be a problem if I hadn’t made a vain promise in a desperate moment over a month ago, staring down an unknown amount of time in isolation, to write here every day.

What an idiotic boob I was about ten or eleven seconds ago.

But here I am, and I don’t want to kill the streak just yet, so I’m writing, but it’s one of those days when there isn’t much to say.

Or, maybe there’s a bit to be said, but I’m not going to say it right now.

Today is equal parts frantic boredom* and nice moments and existential dread brought on by Ken Burns’s “Civil War.”

So, in the spirit of smothering the streak rather than killing it outright, that will do for now.

*Frantic boredom is entirely unique, I pray, to this weird time in our lives

September 23, 2014

It suddenly struck me how odd it is that the most terrifying thing is human. 

As I stretched out my wet rain shell over the chair when I got home today to my empty apartment I saw that one of the lights in my hutch was on. Just the left one. It was shining a strong yellow on the martini glass inside. 

My first hypothesis was that it had been on for days. I went logically through what might have happened: I had tried the light days before to show my parents; it didn’t work. Maybe it eventually turned itself on. But I had tried it days ago, and I was here all last night, alone, assembling my furniture and collapsing on the couch. Surely I would have noticed if a light was on all this time.

Continue reading

The Sort: Part Two

This is the second half of a short story. The first half is here.

I move in that weekend. He lives in this sweet little town in the mountains and owns a house that looks cozy and big to my cramped city eyes. I fill out the transferal paperwork online for my job. Moving locations due to a sort is one of the few things they’re able to process basically immediately. That’s one of the reasons the system works so well. Congress made it really clear that the public-health benefits of everyone’s commitment to proper sorting would basically set the economy on fire. If we’re all happily coupled with the person that we all know is perfect for us, that takes away a lot of the romantic drama and longing and heartbreak that reduce productivity. It’s a win-win. 

It certainly feels that way for me. There’s a lightness in my heart of the kind I haven’t felt in years. My general sense of worry, of insufficiency, goes quiet, even as I’m packing all my boxes with Alex’s help and leaving the place I’ve called home since college. 

That night we have sex for the first time. Alex makes it clear that he’s happy to wait for as long as I want, because again, there’s no rush at all. But I pull him into bed, shaking my head, and kiss him hard. As I should have expected, it works out. Really well. There’s a bit of a learning curve, but really only a bit. The system works. We smile at each other like giddy co-conspirators before turning out the lights for the night.

A few weeks later, we introduce each other to our families. First mine come to our house, because they’re RVing around the country and it works out pretty well. I’m nervous about how they’re going to act, because they’ve always been a little weird around my exes. Alex squeezes my hand and I know what he means: It’s going to be okay, because it’s going to be okay. 

Continue reading

The Sort: Part One

Below is the first half of a short story I wrote recently. I’ll post the rest tomorrow. (Update: it’s here.) Let me know what you think!

Sitting down with my phone, I think: my chances are now about as good as they’ll ever be with Chris. There’s so much going for us. Similar taste in music (equal parts Baroque and Top-40); movies (anything with a good balance of comedy and drama, but nothing at either extreme); and activities (generally bookish, but also running). Such a good match. 

I would generally be paranoid about thinking things like this, because you never know nowadays whether your thoughts are going to stay private or whether you’ll see them echoed back to you online, but now I’m letting myself hope openly about our connection. After all, I’ve been in love with him for, what, eight months now? “Love” might be a bit strong given that nothing has actually happened, but I’m not sure what else to call it when I get indigestion with anticipation of seeing him, try hard to figure out how to ask my friends about the status of his relationship, and start planning my whole life around how to accidentally run into him. Basically, it’s time to close this deal. 

And tonight is my chance.

Continue reading

QUIZ: In a time like this

In a time like this, you take one look at the news and you:

  1. Click on all the links and read the comments to make sure you are fully informed and thinking critically.
  2. Avert your eyes, then gently but firmly state a boundary to those nearby that you cannot share a room with news content in this season.
  3. Immediately tell someone what the fuck you just read about these fucking clowns.
  4. Notice a buzzing between your ears and everything goes a little green, as though some ghoulish children’s-YouTube video were living in your brain. Take a nap to resolve this.

In a time like this, your to-do list consists of:

Continue reading

Two looks at purity

Look at this word: “Purity.”

What happened in your brain and your body when you looked at it? For me, it’s a  bit of a recoil. The word is laden with a kind of strangling Puritan sexual morality. 

This is why, when I was learning about the moral tastebuds and learned that my own morality is based strongly around purity, it was a bit uncomfy. Surely I am no Puritan! 

But purity in that moral sense is not (only) about sex. It’s about the very human reaction against the dangerous. The same urge that would make you avoid drinking a cup of water with a cockroach in it. A good urge. 

When this urge to avoid physical contamination becomes symbolic, it teaches us to avoid mental and spiritual contamination, to seek out the beautiful. Also a good urge. 

But if you look, you’ll see it metastasizing everywhere. 

Continue reading

Quaroutine: Staring.

Now we come to one of the most important parts of the daily routine: 


At what, you ask? 

Not to be rude, but clearly you’re not great at this yet. Don’t worry; there’s plenty of time to learn.

Back to first principles: we inessentials are not going much of anywhere. It’s sort of like being on a ship, if the inside of the ship were your dwelling and also there’s wifi and no rocking (we hope). 

Think about it: there’s a lot of time to look at stuff while on this boat ride.

Assuming you are awake about 16 hours every day, my back-of-the-envelope calculation shows that you will spend roughly 90 daily minutes with your eyes closed due to blinking.* Now, what will your eyes take in for the other 14.5 hours? 

If you’re anything like me, the answer is roughly 13.5 hours of a combination of laptops, phones, and TVs, what with all the working and hobbying and online workout classing and maintaining every relationship you’ve ever had over video call.

(Does this feel good? Not even a tiny bit. It feels a bit like dry cotton balls have been rubbing against my eyes, or perhaps my optic nerve, by the end of the day.)

So that’s the first kind of staring: gazing into the white-light void about a foot from your face all day. It seems to contain all the world, but it also sort of makes you nauseous and doesn’t let your brain finish any of its processes.

Plus, the allure of Content is fading a bit. Back in the old world when you were always falling behind on television, didn’t you wish something would happen that would require you to stay home for a while? You fantasized about having long uninterrupted stretches to binge-watch this or that, or to play through that one video game you bought years ago. But when it comes down to it, you just don’t even seem to have time for that, or it loses its luster immediately. And aren’t you having a lot of conflicted feelings kind of regretting that wish you once had for a break back when the world felt normal, but also basically hoping you’ll never have to go back to the office?

Just me?

Here’s a dog I mutually stared at for a while the other day.
Continue reading

The last grass

The first thing that struck me about this place was the greenness. Remember that one afternoon hugging the bluffs over the Potomac in late July when I was 24, how green it was? I imagined God creating this place in a frenzy:  

This is where He smashed His hands on the keyboard that is GREEN, playing all the notes at once and letting a thousand shades explode all over the trees. 

Later that summer, I took a bike ride and wrote: 

Continue reading