You Know Better: Issue One

July 2006. I left New York for awhile this year. I didn't think I'd be back so quickly. I don't know that I'd call it a mistake, but it's certainly not something I want to repeat anytime soon. Five years and counting, and I can't imagine being anywhere else.

This is my love song to the city.

Read on for a taste of this issue. To get a copy, stop by Bluestockings or email isabel at isabelsparkle dot com.


Her kitchen counters were cluttered with dirty dishes, half-full ashtrays and open packages of frozen burritos. Photos of long-gone Halloweens littered her refrigerator door. Her freezer was a mess. She reminded me of things I’d never had. Her laugh shook her in great glorious waves -- it started at her jaw and washed down over her whole body. I could almost see it and I didn’t want it to end, I would have done anything to keep her like that, head thrown back, laughing forever.

Later that year she took to wearing short pleated schoolgirl skirts. She paired them with striped tube socks, the kind I’d worn as adolescent hand-me-downs from my brother but could never manage to locate as a retro-trend-seeking adult. Where did she get them? I never found out. When it got cold she curled herself inside a fake-fur hooded winter coat that hugged her tight, made her look lived in. It reminded me of people in hospital scrubs on the subway. She was comforting, she released a sigh in me that had been building for as long as I could remember. Silver rings circled her fingers, three or four of them, well-worn, soft-looking somehow. She never took them off.

If I had to guess, I’d say it had something to do with the way she blew smoke. Leaning against a wall, knee bent, left leg propped up behind her, sneakered foot pushing back at the brick. Her eyes searched the darkening street for some clue, lips curling around the thin white stick, breath coming slow, head back and tipped slightly upward, the curve of her neck carving a shape that bent away from the hard wall in an arc so perfect I ached to run my fingers along it. “I mean,” she’d inhale, “it’s just... you know?” Whoosh. Drag. Orange sparks danced in front of her. She’d hold the cloud between her teeth and stare at me. I’d nod, lost. Then she’d turn her head, look some other direction, indifferent, drop the cigarette to the ground, grind it down with the heel of a battered blue Van. I’d never admit to her that I thought of picking it up. Not that I’d have known what to do with it once I had it, even if I had managed it without her noticing. Sniff it, crush it between my fingers, put it in my pocket? I didn’t even smoke.