The Tournament of Books, Presented by Field Notes  |   In the final match, it's The Good Lord Bird v. Life After Life

Ads via The Deck

New York, New York

One Day in New York City

June 1 dawned humid and hot. The forecast: a high of 84 degrees and possible late-day thunderstorms west of town. But forecasts—for the temperature or for a busy day of work and play—aren’t all they’re cracked up to be.

5:45 a.m. in Inwood, Manhattan

Thank you, jet lag. Last night I made it to just before 9 p.m. before the throbbing exhaustion began. But, all told, I got a good amount of sleep, due in part to my trusty foam earplugs, which I use nightly. My street is a favorite thoroughfare for the drivers of 18-wheelers; souped up, deliberately mufflerless Honda Civics that sounds like Harleys; and, well, Harleys. This is very different from the cuckoo-clock birdcalls I heard in Ireland, where I spent the past nine days on vacation. —Lauren Frey
 

5:50 a.m. in Windsor Terrace, Brooklyn

With a rapid thud, bang! I hear my corner deli receive its stack of the Daily News. A few minutes later, heading down the block for my morning run, I see the papers, wedged in their regular spot above the deli’s dropdown security gate. I’ve watched the delivery man make the dropoff before, tossing the bundle from the truck in a fluid arc and lodging it in its promised spot without even leaving his seat. —Kate Schlegel
 

6:15 a.m. in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn

I hit the Sleep button twice. I did not dream. My brain is rumpled spinach. I burn my hand making coffee, and my inbox, when I wake up my laptop, shows 36 new messages. Why don’t they make laptops that sense how awake you are and then boot up to the same level of productivity? Mine’s as chippy as a weatherman. I resent its brightness. —Rosecrans Baldwin
 

6:30 a.m. in Park Slope, Brooklyn

Wake up and fix myself a small bowl of cereal and, since I’m trying to cut down on my coffee consumption (one to two cups a day, but still), a cup of Earl Grey tea. I use the last bag—must get more later. —Andrew Womack
 

6:30 a.m. in Windsor Terrace, Brooklyn

At Connecticut Muffin at the corner of Prospect Park, two dazed-looking men sit over their morning cups of coffee as I walk home after my run. “Hey, it’s hot out today, eh?” calls one of them, trying to make conversation through the mental, and physical, fog. I nod and wave, moving on home. Newspapers delivered at the approximately 50 houses between Prospect Park West and my house include: two Wall Street Journals (including mine), eight New York Times, ten New York Suns. —Kate Schlegel
 

7 a.m. in Inwood

I don’t need to be at work for a few hours, and I am still experiencing travel-induced wonkiness, so my morning progress is slow. I make my favorite French-pressed Vienna roast Sumatra with half-and-half while—earplugs out—I listen to the constant roar of big trucks competing with the chirping of the birds that live on my windowsill. Ireland isn’t the only place with quaint birdcalls, as it turns out. It’s good to be home. Where else can you wear fluorescent workout shorts from the ‘80s and a battered, paint-stained T-shirt without anyone judging you? —Lauren Frey
 

7:15 a.m. in Windsor Terrace

Out the door to work. Halfway down the block, two women about my mother’s age are sitting on a stoop, drinking coffee and talking quietly in thick Brooklyn accents. They pause to say good morning to me as I pass. Around the corner at Terrace Bagels, seven people are in line despite the early hour (including two police officers who I’m pretty sure got a discount on their bagels and coffee). We all observe the unwritten rules: Approach counter at the left, be friendly but precise when ordering, and then walk back to the end of the second line, at the right, to wait your turn to pay. —Kate Schlegel
 

7:15 a.m. in Gowanus, Brooklyn

Mo wakes me up and says, “You told me to make sure you were up. I’m not leaving you alone until your feet are on the floor.” It was a rough night—at 3 a.m., I got up, showered, and took two allergy pills before settling back down to toss and turn for a few hours. It’s warm in the apartment, but the fans keep the air moving. I walk into the next room and wake up the computer, where I answer a few emails and start to edit a blog entry for my work’s website. It’s a short but complex story about a congressional representative. —Paul Ford
 

7:55 a.m. in Lower Manhattan

Pushing my way through the sea of commuters and tourists along Church Street, near the Trade Center, I prepare to weave around a man in front of me and, just in time, recognize him as a co-worker by the ID strap around his neck. It is too early to make conversation for the five minutes it will take to walk to the office. I slow my pace. —Kate Schlegel
 

8 a.m. in the West Village, Manhattan

One Day in New York City, copyright 2006 Danny Gregory

Danny Gregory



8:25 a.m. in Battery Park City, Manhattan

Sometimes an ice cream sandwich will do for breakfast. I eat as I send out work emails. A window is partly open and I can hear the beeps of a truck backing up and the dull roar of an airplane. —Pitchaya Sudbanthad
 

9 a.m. in Gowanus

I run into my landlord on the way to the subway. He’s going to have a baby, he tells me. I congratulate him. He’s moving into another apartment and has to have it remodeled. We talk about property values. —Paul Ford
 

9:05 a.m. in Clinton Hill

On weekday mornings I walk my wife to the subway station in our neighborhood, two blocks away, then I return home to my office in our apartment. Normally we chat about what we’ll be doing this evening. “Are we meeting M. at Cowgirl for dinner tonight?” I say as I’m locking the front door. “You know, people are saying they changed their menu. Do you think it’s true?” My concern is genuine. The Cowgirl Hall of Fame, a restaurant in the West Village, is my second home. I have eaten, I think, in every one of its booths. If I am ever put on death row, when it comes time for my final meal I will ask the warden to consult Cowgirl’s recipe for black and white nachos, remembering the extra jalapenos. A moment later, as we’re crossing the street, I ask my wife cheerfully, “Hey, are we meeting M. at Cowgirl for dinner tonight? You know, people are saying—” “You just said that,” she says. “You just asked me that at the door.” Less than 30 seconds have passed. I am a steamed vegetable. —Rosecrans Baldwin
 

9:30 a.m. in South Williamsburg, Brooklyn

My neighborhood coffeeshop is run by attractive Asian women with an unflagging patience for bearded dudes who want to blather on about last night’s gig. With wireless internet and cheap coffee, it’s a great place to work during the day, but there have been times I’ve ordered my cappuccino only to bail when some asswipe starts rattling off his sonic influences to a waitress who merely wants to make his espresso. But this morning, the place is barren. The best way to avoid hipsters is to rise early. You know, before noon. —Sarah Hepola
 

9:50 a.m. in the East Village, Manhattan

Got up twice already, couldn’t stand up for a while. Had a long dream about Blondie. I was on Cape Cod, and on the short green hill beneath my house, Debbie Harry was driving by in a tiny Yugoslavian car. She said hey; I said hey. She and I and Chris, her bandmate, went to a bar. Debbie was facing felony charges. She found it funny. I told her that “English Boys” was definitely the best Blondie song of all time. I’ve been thinking about writing about (that’s something that I never do, think about writing something) the Fiery Furnaces for a while now, partly because of their relationship to Blondie, and when I woke up from my long conversation with Debbie Harry, one of the Fiery Furnaces’ songs was in my head instead. —Choire Sicha
 

10 a.m. in Soho

One Day in New York City, copyright 2006 Danny Gregory

Danny Gregory



10:05 a.m. in Noho, Manhattan

I’m a few minutes late to work. The person I hired yesterday to work for part of the summer is waiting for me. He is 17 years old, on his way to college. He will scan pages of Harper’s Magazine back to 1900. We spend an hour organizing and moving things from my small office to a free cubicle. I spend five minutes on my stomach under a desk, untangling a thicket of cords so that the scanner—a large, serious piece of equipment several feet long on each side—can be moved. —Paul Ford
 

10:10 a.m. in the East Village

Sometimes I forget to smoke for a while, and when this happens, sometimes I think that I will maybe someday forget for a very long time and not have to quit. I’ll just get all up and quit on. My vast morning dump of email informs me that tonight’s Ricky Skaggs concert at Pace University has been moved indoors due to threat of bad weather. This is typical of the sort of email I get, except this one is possibly useful. Rain? —Choire Sicha
 

10:15 a.m. in the West Village

“You gave it away?”

“Sir, prescriptions that aren’t picked up in two weeks are returned to our inventory. What’s it called?”

“Perphenazine.”

“What’s that?”

“Generic, anti-psychotic. It’s in Webster’s Dictionary, for Christ’s sake.”

She pecks her keyboard. At first, her keystrokes are merely annoying. Before long, they’re pounding my skull. With eyes shut, my knuckles grind against my head to displace the pain. Kaleidoscopic patterns flash inside my lids.

Suddenly, the typing stops.

“Sir?”

My eyes return to focus.

“You can pick up your prescription in 15 minutes,” she says. —Patrick Ambrose
 

11 a.m. in South Williamsburg

Writing in coffeshops always seems like a good idea until I realize I’ve been there an hour and done nothing but fiddle with one sentence and wonder about the couple across from me with matching iBooks. Are they together? But she’s so old. Still, she’s pretty. I like her sundress. I should buy a sundress. Hmm, this sentence would probably work better with a dash instead of a comma. Check, please! —Sarah Hepola
 

11 a.m. in the West Village

I’m early for a noon doctor’s appointment. Everyone is silently reading AARP magazines, except for the receptionist, who is singing along with KC and the Sunshine Band. The song ends, and now she’s performing a duet with Bonnie Raitt. I mutter a string of expletives only to look up and find someone frowning at me—Jesus, a colossal statue of him. Time drags on. Finally, in a moment of clarity, I realize that I shouldn’t even be here. My appointment is actually scheduled for next Thursday. —Patrick Ambrose
 

11:45 a.m. in Gramercy, Manhattan

Take cab to work and on the way, return a three-weeks-overdue phone call. Fare was $5.30. Only had tens and twenties. Cab driver had no singles and gave me $5 in exchange for $10, shorting himself. Then I traded that $5 to the corner doughnut vendor for four quarters, three dollar bills and a massive cinnamon roll. —Choire Sicha
 

Noon in Inwood

All I’ve eaten today is microwaveable edamame. I acknowledge that this is weird on a number of levels. But I feel amply charged to make my way to Midtown. I walk the seven minutes to my subway stop past the tattoo parlor, the salon that specializes in eyebrows, and the pasta store. At the train station, the track work is so loud I cannot carry thoughts to their endpoint. It’s cacophony-induced ADD. Luckily, it proves to be temporary as the train doors shut, shielding me from the noise, if not from the extreme perfume application of the woman next to me. —Lauren Frey
 

Noon in Chelsea, Manhattan

One Day in New York City, copyright 2006 Danny Gregory

Danny Gregory



Noon in the West Village

I storm down West Fourth enveloped in a gray haze of smog and despair. But look—everyone is smiling. New York is smiling. The afternoon heat hasn’t dampened the spirits of this city that I always knew someday would come to a screeching halt—where all movement, urbanity’s lifeblood, would suddenly stop, freezing its subjects in place. Today the city is alive and awash in color—pastel blouses, Hawaiian shirts, lavender summer dresses. Couples saunter down sidewalks, fingers interlocked, their sandaled feet slapping the pavement en route to favorite hangouts. Thank God I’m not behind a desk. —Patrick Ambrose
 

12:30 p.m. in Fort Greene, Brooklyn

I, along with my nonexistent serve, meet Rosecrans for a set of tennis. I lose, 6-3, which is not a true creaming. I use language inappropriate for a tennis court. —Andrew Womack
 

12:45 p.m. in Midtown, Manhattan

The edamame was not enough. On my way to buy a banana at the overpriced, designy deli at the base of the building where I work at Sirius Satellite Radio, I run into my work friend Donna, who is smoking just outside the door to a health club. She doesn’t seem to notice the irony of this, which is both endearing and depressing. —Lauren Frey
 

1:05 p.m. in Fort Greene

No matter what Andrew says, his serves did not go in. We meet once a week in my neighborhood to play tennis. Andrew is kind enough to ride the train over from his house wearing tennis shorts. Between games we talk TMN business, and afterward Andrew buys a bottle of water from a deli. —Rosecrans Baldwin
 

1:40 p.m. in South Williamsburg

Suddenly, without any warning, the H key on my laptop breaks off. Wat a piece of sit! —Sarah Hepola
 

1:45 p.m. in Fort Greene

On the way back to the train, Rosecrans and I stop at a bodega. I got a Fiji water, which is weird because it’s a brand I wouldn’t normally drink, given that one bottle can wreck my budget for a month. Still, the management at the store has the right idea on a hot day like today—it’s all they’ve got cold. I slump onto the bench on my C train. A sweltering combination—a blisteringly hot day, an over-air-conditioned train, my still-adjusting body temperature, and an ice-ice-cold bottle of Fiji. Yes, it’s totally sweltering and I can almost feel my brain shrinking and expanding. I stare at the bottle of Fiji. It appears to have grown in size—it’s absolutely giant. Then I realize I’ve been looking in the reflection of the train window at a Fiji ad just over my shoulder. I glance up at it, then back down at the real bottle in my hand. The back label has slipped off slightly, and blue ink is running all over my fingers. I’m getting really hungry. —Andrew Womack
 

1:50 p.m. in Midtown

In the lobby on my way into the ladies’ room (in Ireland, they just call them toilets), I see a fairly famous indie rock band doing a session in the main performance studio. It takes me a second to remember how I know the singer. Turns out I met him once through a mutual friend, but before I realize that we do that weird half-smiling at each other through the glass walls of the studio. I’d like to stay and watch the session, but peeing and hosting are priority right now. Beethoven waits for no woman. —Lauren Frey
 

1:50 p.m. in Clinton Hill

What kind of person welds a brontosaurus to the hood of their car? Later, my wife looks at the picture on my cell phone and says she has a hard time seeing it as a dinosaur since it looks so much like an enormous, crooked penis. I say she should watch less pornography at work, but I say it in my mind. —Rosecrans Baldwin
 

2 p.m. in Chelsea

One Day in New York City, copyright 2006 Danny Gregory

Danny Gregory



2 p.m. in Red Hook

“Hey man, what’s shakin’?” It’s Dan, my new neighbor, coming down the stairs of our apartment building. Dan’s an artist, and last night he dropped his house keys into the Gowanus Canal while attempting to hang a project. There’s probably nothing left of them now. And who would want to dive in and look for them anyway? Fortunately, Dan and I had swapped spare keys and I was able to give him the set I was holding for him. I remind him that he must make an extra copy over the weekend or else I won’t be able to unplug his iron next time he’s vacationing in Paris. —Patrick Ambrose
 

2:15 p.m. in Gramercy

Coffee? Where is coffee? Why am I not coffee? —Choire Sicha
 

2:25 p.m. in Lower Manhattan

Must separate from work long enough to run to the ATM and buy lunch. Wonder if it’s hot outside. Oh my: hot hot hot hot hot! —Kate Schlegel
 

2:30 p.m. in Park Slope

Still very hungry and back in the heat on Seventh Avenue, I stop by Rite Aid to get a water filter for the house. A guy in line ahead of me is trying to return a white garbage bag full of six-packs of soda in cans. The clerk seems open to the idea, but then looks down into the bag and says they don’t carry that brand. —Andrew Womack
 

2:30 p.m. in Noho

I push the blog piece I’ve been editing out to other editors for review. One of them wonders whether it’s appropriate for us to publish it—whether we’ve made our case strongly enough. Maybe it should be killed? —Paul Ford
 

3 p.m. in Clinton Hill

Looking out the window, I wonder, when old women in church clothes spit on a wall, is it because they’ve always done so or because finally they feel entitled? —Rosecrans Baldwin
 

3:05 p.m. in Park Slope

Stop at a notoriously overpriced grocery store on Union to get tea. A box of bags is six dollars. I turn around and go to a notoriously terrible grocery store on Seventh Avenue, where I pick up a box for half the price, but wait in its notoriously long lines. Still hungry. —Andrew Womack
 

3:10 p.m. in Battery Park City

At the bus stop, neighbor is dressed in a brown pinstripe suit, despite the hot and humid weather. I tell him he’s very fancily dressed for a chef heading to work. I forget he’s a sommelier, and he reminds me that stylish authority is part of the job. I’m convinced I have wrongly pronounced “sommelier” in front of him. I hope he’s already had a couple of glasses and will forget the whole thing. —Pitchaya Sudbanthad
 

3:15 p.m. in Park Slope

Finally home, now ravenous, and U.P.S. has dropped off five gigantic boxes in my hallway. I push, drag, and swear them upstairs. Then, I sink into a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. —Andrew Womack
 

3:30 p.m. in Red Hook

I venture out on the fire escape. Down below, on the other side of the courtyard, is Deborah DeFran and her lovely Labrador, Wahini, who is facing eviction for excessive barking. A couple of months ago, Wahini alerted everyone that a burglar, in an act of acrobatic brilliance, had kicked in my air conditioner and entered my apartment. Thanks to Ms. DeFran and Wahini, I recovered all of my belongings (except for a cheese Danish). Ms. DeFran thanks me for the letter I sent her on behalf of Wahini for the poor dog’s EPA hearing next week. —Patrick Ambrose
 

3:30 p.m. in Noho

After much discussion the piece I’ve been editing is killed. I disagreed with this decision but I understood it and could see its logic. The editor who killed the piece sends the writer who wrote the piece an email; I call the writer later and we debrief. Some stories just don’t make it, for a variety of reasons. The mortality rate is high. —Paul Ford
 

3:55 p.m. in Chinatown

The least English-friendly restaurant in Chinatown is two arms’ width across and has five small tables. Sometimes a cook comes out of the kitchen with his chopping block and sits next to you to slice turnips. I suspect the lady at the counter has overcharged me, but the broth in the duck giblets noodle soup is worth it. —Pitchaya Sudbanthad
 

4 p.m. in Gramercy

Coffee. Coffee. Coffee. Coffee happen now! There is a very pretty and very venous waiter named James at Le Pain Quotidien on 18th Street. Incidentally. —Choire Sicha
 

4 p.m. in Chelsea

One Day in New York City, copyright 2006 Danny Gregory

Danny Gregory



4:15 p.m. in South Williamsburg

The bodega owners were the first people I befriended when I moved to this neighborhood a year ago, because I saw them every day and because they were easier to chat with than the fashionistas on Bedford Avenue in Gloria Steinem glasses and blunt bangs. I had to eighty-six one store, however, when the owner’s daily handshake became a daily kiss in a region I strained not to make my lips. To paraphrase Meatloaf: I would do anything for my 4 p.m. Diet Dr Pepper, but I won’t do that. —Sarah Hepola
 

5:15 p.m. in Chinatown

At a hair salon, a Chinese man dyeing his hair blonde has his head partly cocooned in plastic wrap. An overhead flat-screen is playing a concert by a Hong Kong songstress and the man’s mouthing the lyrics. —Pitchaya Sudbanthad
 

6 p.m. in Union Square, Manhattan

$10.50, plus $2 tip, on drinks with Trevor Butterworth; cranberry and seltzer for me, Campari and seltzer, I think, for him. We talk about luxury. The bar is prone to chuckleheads at this hour. —Choire Sicha
 

6 p.m. in Noho

I call Mo and tell her I’ll be a while getting home, as there is a pile of work through which to churn. She says she’ll see me when I get there. —Paul Ford
 

6 p.m. in Tribeca, Manhattan

My colleagues and I do our best work in bars. Before Janine, our favorite waitress, can bring us our drinks, our project manager is already frantically sketching a diagram on the paper tablecloth. “This is the process we need to capture with our software,” he explains. The drawing is a beautiful representation of the company’s workflow. Janine comes by with a martini, a gimlet, and a manhattan, all straight up. We set a three-drink maximum and everyone has been assigned the task of remembering to take the tablecloth with us when we leave. After a couple more rounds, our project manager whips out his knife and carves out the section that contains our diagram. We leave a generous tip and scars in the table. —Patrick Ambrose
 

6 p.m. in Chelsea

One Day in New York City, copyright 2006 Danny Gregory

Danny Gregory



6 p.m. in Park Slope

U.P.S. rings the buzzer—we’ve got another delivery. Four more boxes. Hungry again. —Andrew Womack
 

6:05 p.m. in Windsor Terrace

On the way home, I stop at the corner drugstore, and although it’s surprisingly busy, as soon as I walk in the pharmacist has punched my name into his computer (without asking me to spell it) and is confirming the refill I’m after. While I wait, he convinces Mrs. Gonzales to let him give her 10 pills to last her through the week while she waits on her new prescription, and advises Ms. Wong, who is having trouble with her insurer, to pay for her prescription now in full, promising a refund if she can straighten out the problem within a week. She suggests she won’t do it, concerned about the price, and says she can skip a few. “But Ms. Wong, that’s not a good idea. That pill’s not one you want to skip,” the pharmacist advises. —Kate Schlegel
 

6:30 p.m. in South Williamsburg

My walk to the JMZ train winds through a Puerto Rican and Dominican neighborhood of old people on stoops, kids playing handball, and guys with gold chains who like to comment on my lady parts. The fire hydrant is leaking into the street, a five-pronged stream that the kids are using fill water balloons and smack them on the cement. I appreciate the distraction. Six blocks, and not one derogatory comment! —Sarah Hepola
 

7 p.m. in the West Village

On 11th Street I stare at a woman’s ankles because they’re the size of extra-large bagels, even though her legs are skinny as straws—like someone’s been playing ring toss with inner tubes. She gives me an awful look and I feel terrible for a minute; then I wonder: What if they’re detached thigh implants? —Rosecrans Baldwin
 

7 p.m. in Park Slope

At home, dinner and a movie (not the TV show): tilapia, mashed potatoes, asparagus, and Flowers in the Attic. The food is delicious but the movie is already as bad as I’ve been told. —Andrew Womack
 

7 p.m. in the West Village

One Day in New York City, copyright 2006 Danny Gregory

Danny Gregory



7:05 p.m. in the Lower East Side, Manhattan

Freeman’s Restaurant, where I’m meeting friends for dinner, doesn’t have an address. Or, I should say, the address is “at the end of Freeman’s Alley,” which is not a destination I could plug into Hopstop.com. My sense of direction is truly unevolved—I tend to think north is whichever way I’m pointing—so navigating anywhere is a challenge, especially alleys on the Lower East Side. When I find the place, I feel as though I’ve aced a killer crossword. I want to say to a stranger: “Hey, look what I did! And 34 Down was a monster!” —Sarah Hepola
 

7:30 p.m. in Chelsea

There’s a theory that anxiety disorders are related to the inner ear; something like secret mental vertigo, I guess. The barometer is crazy right now. Two layers of clouds, one atop the next, black and white, are rampaging in from New Jersey. It’s dark. First the wind with dust comes down the cross-streets, and then the lightning; one-one-thousand, two-one-thousand. The trees start flapping and the lightning makes a girl scream into her cell phone. —Choire Sicha
 

7:30 p.m. in Windsor Terrace

Sitting on my stoop, I watch my neighbors scurry around as a storm darkens the sky to the west. A U.P.S. man stops next door to deliver a package, and my thirty-something neighbor recognizes him as a member of her high school class. Though he’s in a hurry to make the rest of his deliveries and head home, he stands and talks with her for several minutes. Meanwhile, a woman who just moved in across the street is waiting for him at the curb, clutching her “We have a package for you” note. While she waits, we exchange pleasantries and introductions. Across the street and one door up, the homeowners are standing in their doorway, holding drinks and watching the clouds darken, waiting for the show. —Kate Schlegel
 

7:30 p.m. in the Lower East Side

The bartender at Freeman’s makes a cocktail as if it were a kind of voodoo. Behold the creation of the mint julep: Crush mint with mortar and pestle; crush ice with violent whaling that resembles something out of the last 30 minutes of Apocalypse Now; pour liquor with precision of a scientist; twist the swizzle stick as if to make fire; as a finale, crumble mint leaf between your fingers and smack your hands to dust it over the drink. Honestly, I’m not sure if I have a cocktail or if I’ve just been baptized. —Sarah Hepola
 

7:45 p.m. in the West Village

Lies and rumors! Vicious taradiddles! Rumors of apocalypse spread by red herrings! The menu at Cowgirl has not changed. All my standbys—the black and white nachos and the chicken-fried steak and even the complimentary cowboy caviar—are still in place. We tuck in to celebrate, me with tequila and fajitas, my wife with tequila and ribs, and her friend M. with tequila and a chicken quesadilla. At one point in the conversation, my wife makes a swirling gesture with her finger and I, for some reason, take it to mean I should finish my drink in one swallow. I am still a vegetable, but now a wet one. Halfway through dinner, it seems everyone else is wet, too: It’s pouring outside. People in rain-soaked jackets are rushing into the restaurant for cover. The sky’s white from lightning. A giant boom of thunder makes everybody look out the windows. We linger over coffee until the rain slows and then pop open our umbrellas for the walk to the subway. It’s decided we’re going the long way but no one changes direction. —Rosecrans Baldwin
 

8 p.m. in Chelsea

Unrelenting downpour. Two tiny young lesbians are crouched in the shallow doorway of a church, facing each other and holding hands. I go into a school bathroom, where a retarded man is taking a crap in the stall. When he comes out, he says, “Ai-yi-yi. That hurt.” —Choire Sicha
 

8 p.m. in Inwood

My show is over. I’ve tackled the subway and am now swinging through the grocery store to replenish my post-vacation refrigerator shelves. The throbbing exhaustion has begun again. I hope tomorrow night I’ll have enough oomph to accept a friend’s invite to a concert on a pier overlooking the Hudson River, but that’s largely up to my circadian rhythms. Tonight, I’ll just eat strawberries for dinner (don’t worry; I had an enormous lunch), call Grandma to let her know I’m back safe, then allow myself the privilege of passing out by nine. —Lauren Frey
 

8:05 p.m. in Windsor Terrace

I’m inside when the storm finally breaks over Brooklyn, and I’m walking around my apartment closing windows when a spectacular thunderclap hits. The skygazing homeowners across the street turn in unison and rush inside. At the next house over, the silhouette of six-year-old Lila, who’d been watching the storm from her bedroom, vanishes below the windowsill. —Kate Schlegel
 

8:15 p.m. in Gowanus

I am surrounded by thunder and lightning as I walk from the train to my home. “Faith and begorrah!” I yell as my shirt, undershirt, and pants are soaked. No excuse: I thought it would rain, yet didn’t bother to grab an umbrella. When I get home the apartment is empty. Mo is nowhere to be seen. I comfort the nervous cat and talk to my friend Steve on the phone; he was going to come for a visit, but not in this great flooding mess. —Paul Ford
 

8:20 p.m. in Park Slope

Flowers in the Attic was meant to be watched with an electrical storm raging outside, and I am getting the grade-A treatment on that front. I am hooked. A Google search reveals much of the incest was removed for the movie version. Bummer. —Andrew Womack



8:30 p.m. in Gowanus

The door opens and Mo comes in, her blue dress soaked. She had gone to get canned clam chowder from a nearby supermarket. “I wanted some,” she says, starting up the stove. I make myself a turkey burger as the thunderstorm goes on outside. —Paul Ford
 

9 p.m. in Carroll Gardens

I’m on a first-name basis with too many bartenders. —Patrick Ambrose
 

9:25 p.m. West Village

When working on a novel and sitting next to cute but chatty recent grads of Barnard (as advertised on a T-shirt and a tote bag), my power of concentration amplifies tenfold, as if a protective aura has built up so as to not contaminate one strain of inconsequential, non-magical thinking with another. —Pitchaya Sudbanthad
 

10:30 p.m. in the Lower East Side

The bill arrives: Four girls, four credit cards. Back in Texas, asking a waiter to split a check multiple ways was de rigeur, but in New York, it’s akin to paying with pennies. Sadly, we all blew our cash on mint juleps during the hour we waited for a table. (Do it again! Do it again!) The waiter caves, and hates us forever. Outside the restaurant, the empty alley is dotted with puddles from the evening’s downpour. They flicker with amber light streaming from the restaurant. Rain drips from the awning, and you can actually hear it, like a leaky faucet: drrrip, drrrip. “This is such a beautiful place,” my friend remarks. I agree, and add: “… to get mugged.” —Sarah Hepola
 

11 p.m. in the West Village

One Day in New York City, copyright 2006 Danny Gregory

Danny Gregory



11:50 p.m. in the East Village

Cab. $7 with tip. There are two keys that look like the front door key to my building. Sometimes I try one; it doesn’t work. Then I use the other; doesn’t work. The first: doesn’t work. Then the second, and it works. Or the first one works the third time. The cat is soaking wet, but not from the storm; the shower has been dripping all day into its clogged drain. —Choire Sicha
 

12:30 a.m. in Red Hook, Brooklyn

The rats are bold in my neck of the woods. I see them on the subway platform, hear them ripping one another apart in a nearby lot, and now a big, fat one has just scurried past me and into a hole leading to the basement of my building. I had been worried something like this would happen since my neighbor’s cat moved out. I wasn’t sure what pestilence would come roiling up from the bowels of my building. Now I know. I call my landlord and leave a message: June 1 is gonna be the last rent check you get from me unless you get a goddamn exterminator out here. Time for a real nightcap—a shot of Jack and a sleeping pill. —Patrick Ambrose
 

2:15 a.m. in Battery Park City

Tired, but can’t seem to go to sleep. I shouldn’t have had the late-night coffee. —Pitchaya Sudbanthad
 

TMN’s Contributing Writers know where to find the purple couch. Long live the pan flute, mini mafia, and Michael Jackson. More by The Writers