the project has moved



The Good Men Project

Dear readers,

Are you there? The blog is now a column over at The Good Men Project and will appear there in the future, every two weeks.




And after the Intermission IV

Then it is the day before she returns. I haven't written much here, I realize. I thought I would, but maybe I am not so interesting on my own. I look over the words I managed. Short sentences. Empty sentences. When I talk with her the night before her flight, she says, "Will you be sad if I don't come back?" She uses the wrong tense, and laughs. I will be a better husband, I say.

The cat has grown frustrated with me. He won't let me brush him anymore. At first it was fine; then it was bribes; now it is not at all. He throws up a hairball on the carpet. He doesn't understand the concept of serves him right. He simply sadly meows.

Tomorrow I will rent a car and pick her up. I will not say how much I missed her. I have said it already and it sounds overblown, and she will be there and missing her is the only thing I will miss, if anything. A strange concept, but this is the experience: I will struggle to talk when what I will want to do is to throw myself into her presence, and when I can talk I will tell a story of us--how we made it through five weeks and grew stronger for it--instead of how those five weeks have weakened me until the first good look at her, in the flesh, will bring my loneliness crumbling down, to a bedrock of longing.


And after the Intermission III

As I'm keeping myself busy I start to feel okay, then less okay, then circular. After a weekend of this circle she calls with the news in Boston. The water is undrinkable, she says. I already know this: the "cuff link" on the pipe has broken and the clean water has spilled into the unswimmable Charles River at 8 million gallons an hour. I wonder how Cathreen knows this. She says, "Don't give to Boise." Our cat cries in the background. I hear they are sending people out on the streets to announce the bad tap water, because if you came home and weren't lonely and always online, how would you know? I hold the phone to Boise's ear and he looks confused. I take showers and watch my skin for a yellow glow. Soon Cathreen calls to tell me the water is okay again.

"How?" I ask.

She says, "I know everything."

I ask her how things are, and when she says they could be better, I ask if she wants to come home. We talk about our two little nephews that are driving her crazy there. She says she went to the fortune teller and I should watch out for stairs and cars. Just for this month and next, she says. Of course I imagine falling down the outside steps into traffic. She says something about babies. She says, "when I come home."

She says she knew about the water because she is always watching. I imagine her searching the internet for the things that are affecting me here.


And after the Intermission II

Two weeks pass at a fast slow clip.

I have a friend come into town. I work. I drink more than I have in a long time. I buy cat food twice. Boise is eating in sorrow.

The first couple nights he waited in the living room. Now he’s happiest when we’re both asleep. He is always hungry. He is always meowing. Sometimes, when he hears her voice on the computer, he runs away. I don’t want to look and see where he goes.

I talk to her a little. She says the usual things she should say to make me feel better. This works, for a while.

I go crazy if she doesn’t call again the next night.

Here is what I do: I wake up and turn on the heat so the shower will be warm. I go to work. I sit at a computer. I come home and sit at my computer. I think about when, or if, she will call. I try not to watch tv. I bring a book to the tv and watch tv. I brush the cat until he tries to bite me. I switch brushes. I give him a snack. If she doesn’t call, I lay in bed reading. If she does call, I am okay.

This probably makes it sound too sad. The drinking is fun. I spend money she’s preapproved. I remember my old life.

Missing her is probably a good thing.

I play basketball once. Kids play at the hoop beside me and in the playground nearby and I listen to the nonsense of their small circle of friends.


The Island of Epidemics and Me

While Cathreen is away in Korea, I am working on getting published a series of tiny stories about an island of epidemics. The epidemics are: memory loss, hunger, expanding hearts, unrequited love, obsession, magic, charisma . . .

Boise claws my hands when I try to clip his nails and I think about what is plaguing him. He meows. Over and over. The first night, he slept by the door, waiting for Cathreen to come back.

I am trying to keep busy.

I went to the dentist on Friday. I worked for a couple hours with a half-numb mouth. It took a while to really get a hold of Cathreen. Today was the first day we had any time to talk. Before she hung up, she said she'd changed her mind about having a baby. Our nephew threw her hairbrush at her and she called for his mother. She said she was spending her time eating and watching tv. We were talking on the computer. I said all this was what she could be doing here, at home. I said everything she did there she could do here, at home, though that isn't true.

Before she left, she ordered some pots and pans. They came hours after I'd taken her to the airport. I cook pasta and rice and leftovers and nothing burns anymore.

I run out of Boise's food. I run out of trash bags. I spend hours online. I leave the computer on when I sleep. I send out the island of epidemics stories.

In the time between her flight and now, five have been accepted. I feel full of hope. But then I remember why I feel empty or full.


And after the Intermission

Cathreen is gone to Korea. My, this house is big.

I want to write more but it's also a little scary. How to care for the cat?

The Paris Review Interviews essays will have to wait. I have emotions on my mind. The cat sits by the door, in a suitcase. "Boy," I call him. Still, I'm the one who named him.

Five weeks.

We've done months before. But I've never been the one who couldn't get away from the other's scent. I was always the one who sadded his way over the ocean and then looked up his old life.


The Paris Review Interviews 6

James M. Cain

I had to skip some of this interview. Hollywood and writing tricks. "The old switcheroo."

Cathreen's mom is home from the hospital. In her whole-leg cast. The two babies have become attention-starved. Cathreen's grandmother is angry with her dead husband. How could he not watch out for his daughter? On the day of his death, let her slip and require knee surgery.

Maybe he was aiming at me with his grandaughter, I think after Cathreen says this. Too selfish? It was my birthday interrupted by the phone call.

Too selfish.

We move tomorrow. Nothing is packed. We've been moving for weeks. Cathreen is in bed. The cat is sleeping.

Cain says he always talked in proper English, but wrote the way a person talked.

Some other person, I guess. Obviously not himself.


The Paris Review Interviews 5

Borges says Americans have to save the English language.

Kurt Vonnegut

Cathreen lies in bed looking at online shopping sites. I try to watch tv, though there's nothing good. From time to time, she calls me in to look at something. Once, she calls me on the phone.

Vonnegut is not taking his interview seriously.

Though sometimes, he is.


The Paris Review Interviews 4

Now we are about to eat dinner with friends.

Borges was having a conversation. Borges might never have tried fiction, he says, if he hadn't almost died.

The smell coming out of the kitchen--I am in awe of my wife. I can feel her in my insides, wanting to be reconciled to hunger.


The Paris Review Interviews 3

Saul Bellow

Saul Bellow took 5 weeks to complete his interview. Dedication to truth.

Boise rolls on the floor over and over. Drugged up on Japanese catnip again. He plays with a laser but can't concentrate. Cathreen talks about hairballs.

She's sore from moving all weekend. Basketball, apartment moving, shopping, exhaustion, made me take a break from this essay to lie on the couch. Exhaustion comes in many forms, from many causes.

Jorge Luis Borges

Cathreen's mother has had her surgery, Cathreen tells me in past tense. She tells me she told my mother about it. My mother is a focal point of trying to figure out my problems.

More on Borges later.


The Paris Review Interviews 2

Ernest Hemingway

By the the time of this interview, Hemingway was already bitter and angry. I kept thinking about his suicide.

T.S. Eliot

It's St. Patrick's Day in Boston, but here I am. Though, I could have chosen to go outside.

Cathreen's sisters are sending money for her to buy things here in America. This is what America is for. It's the babies birthdays soon, and we debate gifts. They're my nephews, too, I tell her. My only ones. My relationship with the cat is one of giving to the taker. "That little creature," Cathreen says. That little creature is the lucky one. This paragraph is a paragraph of desire.

Eliot thinks that common speech might disappear. Has it?


The Paris Review Interviews 1

Dorothy Parker

Cathreen is cooking in the kitchen and the smell of it is making me sick with hunger. She won't let me go in there--it messes up her rhythm or something. Two days ago, after a fight, she told me one of our nephews went to the hospital next to the hospital in which her mother lies waiting for knee surgery. The baby passed out holding its breath or having a seizure, I'm not sure which. And I tried to find out--it's a big difference, one a matter of passion.

The way they talked in the old days, I think about Dorothy Parker, won't ever be surpassed. Did they fake it that way for the movies or was everyone like that, was a common question for me in black and white.

Truman Capote

liked to talk, too. He says he was a genius and he freaked people out. He says he always knew he would be a writer.

I'm worried about when Cathreen goes back to Korea. Less than a month from now. But I'll be here with Boise. She can't be away from the cat for long. Sometimes when I come home from work, she says she wants another; when I'm alone with him, I want another, too. Why is that?

She found the Japanese cat nip today--our Asian cat shows nothing for the Western kind--and it made him so happy he bit her.


Another Spate of Bad Luck 4


Cathreen says she remembers, now, a fortune teller who said her mother would be healthy except for her leg. Her sister remembers it too, first. Cathreen and I are supposed to be rich by the time she's mid-thirties. So what am I supposed to think now?

Death or Something Like It

I think I mentioned this before, but I was pronounced dead by a fortune teller? As in, "Isn't this person dead!" As in, "He shouldn't be alive at all!"

I was left out in this same world I'm living in by my birth mother. When I was just a baby. At two I was adopted, sickly, Hep-A--I think this is the one, mute? But here I am.

Okay, not exactly the same world.

That fortune teller said I was given a second life.


I also had my palm read once by a friend in Prague--she said I would either die young or come close to death.

So you can see what I'm up against.

But what was I talking about? I got distracted from my own words by others'. Tomorrow I should not eat meat. Saturday Cathreen will finish painting our new apartment. Sunday we will, we should, we might.

The End?

I stole this form from a book by Mary Robison--Why Did I Ever? Later I will change it. For now let it sit.


That's right--that's what I started out to say. Cathreen says she told her mother that her grandfather who died on my birthday, the day her mother blew out her knee, her grandfather's ghost, was just giving her an excuse/chance to relax. As they say, Get off her feet.


Another Spate of Bad Luck 3


Cathreen wants to see me take care of the cat before she can trust me with it when she's gone. I was the one who named him. Boise. Boy.

I stole the name from a Hemingway novel.

So What Do You Figure

Last night I watched a tv show that makes no sense while Cathreen watched Korean tv online in the other room. Later I tried to make sense of it for her.

I had friends over from up the street. We had to clean the house.

I should say, I had to clean the house. Which is fine, since I'm the one who invited them over. Sometimes we all watch this show together. Then it seems to make less sense, and also more.


We replaced the shampoo, how about that?


Cathreen's sisters are in a fit over who will take care of their mother. There's a lot to do.

Then there are the babies. Yesterday, one of them learned to suck his thumb. I don't mean to sound bitter.


Another Spate of Bad Luck 2

To Sleep

Today when I come home from work Cathreen is asleep. Later I will learn this is the seventeenth hour. The cat is crying for her to wake up, or for me to leave them both alone. I was told dinner would be ready, but to be upset at this would be to be the bad husband. I curl up next to her, then I take a nap of my own on the couch.

I can't keep my eyes open, as they say.


My birthday I called One Night in Korea. We went to a galbi restaurant, then later karaoke. Soon Cathreen will go back to Busan for over a month. I will be left in America.

In the karaoke room I sang My Girl, by The Temptations. Near the end she got up and when she came back it was a new song but I was still singing to her.


We missed her sister's birthday. She called two days late. She'd finally woken up and was snacking on Korean popcorn. I tried to sleep--it was getting late--but after the nap I couldn't. Maybe it was allergies. I kept thinking why was I not asleep, and then it was morning.


At work I stare at a robot and think: This is good.

There is free breakfast. I did not bring lunch. Last night I remember Cathreen coming back to bed and saying she was supposed to be lucky. Special. So said a fortune teller.

Once she was there beside me I got a few hours of rest.