Personal Essays

The Fragile Pleasures of a Road Trip

      “Everybody’s off on their own trip,” as they said in the sixties. It is still a useful phrase, especially in a personal, interior sense. It points to the difficulties of perception and communication. I have completed an epic, 3,800-mile trip from the Midwest to the East Coast and back, on behalf of […]

Moving Along Through Time

  I was sitting at a café table outside the pâtisserie in Little Morocco, Queens, waiting on repairs to my aging Honda, when an older man in shades pulled up to the curb in a no-parking zone, in his black Cadillac Escalade Premium Luxury Platinum. I was thinking about mobility, you see, so the universe […]

Little Egypt, Queens

    Sometimes you know the universe is at work when the metaphorical intersects with the personal. When my car suddenly shuddered and seemed to slip out of gear as I was trying to get over the Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge to Long Island, my next self-assignment, I pushed harder on the gas, thinking I […]

Breaking the Flatness of the Present

  The feeling comes over me at unexpected times—walking down a street of stone townhomes at dawn, lights in bay windows, stairs and gardens mounded with new snow. Sensing that the skyscraper-as-public-art was designed instead as a taunt and a cashing-in on disaster. Leafing through a glossy magazine filled with photos of socialites smiling as […]

The World Trade Center as the Future

    Visitors this weekend who still needed to buy tickets in person to the One World Observatory, the highest place above New York City, were directed to a half-dozen digital kiosks in the building’s ground-floor lobby in Lower Manhattan. Not all the machines were in service, and those that were insisted glitchily, repeatedly, that […]

Shoulders Back, Tummy Tucked…

    The little cartoon drawings, photographs, and spinal-column diagrams strike a nerve. They show people slumping and slouching like I do, standing with their shoulders hunched forward and their necks out like a turtle’s. The body was made to stand and sit erect, “stacked” as the physical therapists say, one vertebra over another so […]

Gratitude Comes Hard to Us

    Thanksgiving is here, and we who invented the holiday are squirming as usual. We have been subjected to a series of (usually commercial) exhortations to be grateful (and show it by buying something). Pop psychology has tossed a lot of mawkish reflection in the same direction, insisting we make gratitude lists and feel […]

Comfortable Silence

Recently, I came across some essays I had written a few years back. These stories were mostly autobiographical, tales of personal observations and proclamations of personal beliefs. As I read over them, I remembered how quickly my hands had worked to tell these stories, eager to share them with an audience as quickly as I […]