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no gold (things will have to wait)

There is an old Russian expression for the inevitable moment when your neighbors begin renovating. "Searching for gold in the walls." They say, to describe the epic sounds of drills in ancient concrete. You might appreciate this odd humor, this dark joke, this survival tactic. I am not so graceful a man to wrap my thoughts around it. Those drills and grinders, they shake the very walls of our apartment. Early on Sunday mornings and often long into the evenings they go.

This has been going on for the last four months, maybe more. I stopped counting.

I cannot imagine there are any walls left, that there is an entire open floor below us, the wind whipping through the naked beams and nothing else. That is the only explanation. Or that they break down walls, build new ones, find a flaw, some grand mistake and then break all of the walls down again. Not swiftly with sledgehammers, but with one crappy old drill with a dull bit, mashing away, so that children hundreds of miles away…

on refrigerators


V's feet are slapping against the floor. I hear her before she bursts into the kitchen, a leaf of paper hanging from her hand.
"Papa. Papa. Look. Look." She howls.
The paint is still wet. It is a flurry of brown and blue, some red. My eyes jump wide. I clap my hands.
"Put it on the fridge!" I announce, and she does.
A smile, an expression of complete satisfaction presents itself. She runs out of the room, to do it all again.

This is what all of us want, I tell myself. To be appreciated. To have our work grace a wall. It seems so simple, but in an adult life - how often does this happen? How rare is this?

Then, I remember Jan Groover telling us to tape our latest photographs to the door of the refrigerator. "If you still like it after a week, then you have something." She added, a long thin cigarette dangling from her lip.



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