the dirty dozen {twelve youtube comments about kate bush}

Doctor : you have 4 minutes to live
Me : play Wuthering Heights
Doctor : but it's 4:26
God : it's ok

friend: your crush is coming, quick act normal

03 Absolutely sad and strange underrated song. One of the favorites songs of 2pac.

04 If she was a ghost, she wouldn't have to ask to get back in, she'd simply go through the wall.

05 St Vincent said in a interview that Wuthering Heights is her karaoke song

06 They play this continuously at the supermarket I work at. The speakers are on a really weird volume and all you can hear is the high pitches part of the vocals and it took me forever to Shazam, glad I found it though

07 no algorithm brought you here..... you searched for it

It's just a song it can't hurt you
the song:

09 That first pointed synth goes right into my rib.

10 So 36 years later, and we all agree this is still a God-tier song, right?

11 Play this at my funeral, and I will not come back to haunt you.

12 Dancing in my kitchen with Samsung at 75 years old, stay young everybody


i read a bunch of reviews of the movie we watched this evening as well; this time it was the story of a pair of demonic pants, not to be confused with the icelandic demonic pants that will produce endless riches but consign you to persecution if you have the misfortune to be wearing them when you die. i think i appreciate what it had to say about fast fashion? i definitely appreciate what it had to say about the many ways in which premium denim can be lethal. i enjoy thinking about how nondescript objects might be lethal; when i am seated at a weird table at a wedding i inevitably ask everyone how they would kill a man if they had to use the objects with which we are all surrounded, which is probably how i end up at those tables.

a terrible conversation bloomed in one of my friend groups a couple of months ago after one of us posted a news item about an unfortunate person whose medical condition rendered them unconscious for most of the pandemic. would have been great, right? a dear friend said. just being unconscious through all of this? my dear's comment was throwaway, but she launched A Whole Thing about how each of us in that friend-aggregation has felt about the pandemic, and maybe about pain and tribulation in general. me, i have been having conversations with old friends that probably wouldn't have happened until one of us died. that doesn't make me glad that we have had the year we've had, but it's ours; i'm not giving it back and i'm not forgetting.


i read a bunch of reviews of the movie we just watched (another round, a maybe touching and very unexpected exploration of middle age in denmark and other things that concludes with a legitimately spectacular mads mikkelsen dance scene) and eventually got to one with a preface: the writer saw a screener of the film at home and i, the review reader, should think long and hard about whether or not seeing the film in the theater is right for me. what is right for me?

joe got his first and only COVID vaccine shot last weekend and i got my first the weekend before that,* so it's conceivable that we might be seeing movies in the theater before the end of april! i don't yet know how i feel about taking off my mask in mixed company yet; that's something i would want to do if we went to nitehawk, our forever local in williamsburg, but i might need to know that anyone who would bring me a cocktail or popcorn has little or no chance of suffering because they've interacted with me before i think about something like that. will we get to a point where businesses let us know if their workers are vaccinated? will we get to a point where i let those workers know that i'm vaccinated? i consider a scenario in which our apartment complex opens the exercise room back up for people who can demonstrate that they're unlikely to infect one another — some of us paying monthly dues again would be revenue for the building, and maybe it would be enough to justify the building staff going in to clean every once in a while? maybe we could agree to not care if they didn't clean and we could just work our challenges out on filthy recumbent bikes and the one rowing machine? — and then i think about the blood rage that descends on my neighbors when they differ on radio volume or how many ceiling-mounted televisions are tuned to fox news versus like matlock and i know that we won't return to normalcy in half-measures.

i was on a walk along the waterfront last week when a squirrel perked up on its haunches in the way that indicates it's one of the ones that's gotten used to snacks from people walking in the park. one shouldn't feed squirrels in the park or anywhere, what we tend to give them is much less nutritious than what they'd find on their own and they're perfectly capable of foraging, moreover we shouldn't teach them to approach humans for food, but i am a rotten woman and i had the tail end of a bag of walnut chunks in my pocket for just such an occasion. high on the prospect of interacting with a creature i didn't know, i dug into my bag, gave myself a thorough incidental coating of nut dust, and offered a cupped handful of food, six inches from the ground. the squirrel, a squirrel, ventured up and bit my middle finger without malice. "oh, buddy! no, not that." i dumped my nuts on the ground and he figured it out.

there is no record of anyone catching rabies from a squirrel in the united states, per my research; some speculate that they are so small that if a rabid animal bites them, the vast likelihood is that they'll die long before they're able to infect another creature. my finger bled a drop, but the puncture wasn't deep, because: squirrel. the whole incident was comforting, honestly; i haven't been to the wildlife hospital in more than a year, and steve's the only creature biting me these days. he's beyond walnuts.

*i still haven't figured out how to feel about this. my freakish blood pressure qualified me for vaccination here in new york a while ago, but i didn't feel comfortable signing up for an appointment because my condition was managed with meds, which meant i didn't really have a comorbidity at all, so. then a checkup revealed that my prescriptions weren't enough, my doctor advised me to go get a shot, and i did.


in a recent attempt to develop a substantial team lead in imaginary-zombie-related competitive step counting i headed north on the promenade along east river park this sunday and realized pretty quickly that i wanted to take a long, long walk. in fact, i wanted to walk all the way up to central park and see barry, the goddamn adorable barred owl who's been appearing around the park and charming people off and on since october. i follow a not-insubstantial number of bird enthusiasts on twitter, so barry pops up in my feed several times a week, at which point i pump my fist at my laptop and chant BA-RRY! BA-RRY!, frightening the cats. as far as i can remember i've never seen an owl in the wild, you see; we didn't really have owls in our especially-paved part of orange county when i was growing up (unless you count david bowie in labyrinth, and, okay, that's fair). to me barry is even more exciting than the unnamed(?) snowy owl folks have been seeing in the park since last month, even though she's the first snowy spotted there in 130 years — i saw a snowy up close and at length when we tended her at my bird hospital a couple of years ago.

anyway, i walked and walked (and walked and walked — per social media barry was up around the loch, which is at the north end of the park around 103rd street) and tried to leave my phone alone so that it wouldn't die before i had a chance to take shitty faraway pictures. i approached a few hikers on a random icy path in the park: have you seen...the barred owl? "there are a bunch of people back thataway who seem excited, i don't know." i passed a partial sparrow, pink and chunky. i passed a whole northern cardinal, ten feet away and puffed up like a durian. then i totally saw barry, and it was just like when joe spotted david bowie in the mezzanine at a pixies show, though barry wasn't wearing a hoodie and sneakers. respectable jareth cosplay, though.

manhattan bird alert (hush) tweeted yesterday that barry is likely a female, given the pitch of her hoots. after hearing that i dove into Bird Internet like a fox after a mouse beneath the snow and spent the next hour listening to barred owl recordings; i learned to my delight that ornithologists transliterate their calls as "who cooks for you? who cooks for you-all?" and that barred owls are also called hoot owls because their hoots are characteristic in the same way that concord grapes are definitively grape. matty and steve were reasonably tolerant of my attempts to who-cooks-for-YOU? like barry at them all night, which does sound much better than BA-RRY! BA-RRY!, i would imagine.


since the beginning of the year i've been doing team-based escape-from-zombies fitness-tracker challenges with my college roommate jen and her various social and professional circles; it's been a delightful way to fold check-ins with a dear friend into my daily life and has also turned me into an aaron sorkin character. removing old green nail polish? can totally happen while i'm racewalking around the apartment. emailing a dermatologist for a story follow-up? can totally happen while i'm racewalking around the apartment. worrying about what's going on in the bartlet biden administration? fooled you, i stopped doing that at the end of january. okay, i mostly stopped doing that at the end of january.

it turns out that motivation is a much bigger problem for me when the world is just mostly on fire instead of completely on fire. i've been so frayed and overcommitted for most of the pandemic that i didn't think about the fact that i was doing too much; now that, i don't know, we're watching two hours of news a night instead of three and i'm quilting at the coffee table instead of writing letters to georgia voters as we watch, i've started to shy away from the work that wasn't a problem a few months ago, or wasn't a problem i could avoid. that's where the racewalking out of the zombies' clutches comes in: you're not really procrastinating if you're getting steps en route to returning a library book (for which you won't even get late-fined until june) to help friends bust through a roadblock of undead wolves. the work is still happening, but i've started asking for the leeway that social media assures me i've deserved all this time. i think i ruined my sneakers on a walk up to midtown that got us to the next safe house just as some bar television played the national anthem at the beginning of the super bowl and it was totally worth it (also they had started to smell, a bit).


four years ago i helped a woman at penn station get to her train, which was also my train. we were both going to washington for the inauguration; i told her i was going to protest. "oh," she said, looking me up and down. "are you going to hurt me?" i stayed with my dear friend jacob's family, and his elder daughter pulled out an impressive array of craft supplies to help us make our signs. on the morning of the march, when the streets were so crowded we didn't get anywhere near the main gathering area and its speakers, the biggest roar that rippled through the people around me was for john kerry as he strolled with us for a bit. i imagined that i would be in washington again today, no matter who topped the platform.


my grandmother died on monday, which was both unsurprising (as she was 99) and a bit unexpected (as she had developed COVID though she lived in a nursing home in los angeles that has been locked down for a long, long time). the first week or so after her positive test was a comparatively good one — she was sleepy and sniffly, the staff reported via my aunt via my mother — but her blood oxygen levels began to plunge, and you have probably heard about access to ventilators and oxygen in los angeles, to say nothing of hospital beds. a catholic priest came by to perform last rites on monday morning, my aunt arranged for someone to play "la vie en rose" (which she loved, loved, loved) in the afternoon, and she died in the early evening. she'll be buried in her mink (which she also loved), gloves, and a black beret. if our family had been interested in trying to have a funeral, we would have had to jostle for a slot in march.

i am sorely tempted to exaggerate the immediate emotional impact of grandma's passing to make other people feel shitty about their life choices. i have, or had, a travel-writer friend who seems constitutionally incapable of not skipping off to europe and mexico;* my feeds deliver me a much closer friend holding babies and making cameos with family in other cities; friends' friends flew down to disney world in the fall. in middle age i've gotten better at recognizing when i'm making an honest effort to effect change and when i'm inflicting pain as a hobbyist. is stitching away at my ongoing quilt in front of cable news for a couple of hours each evening a bit madame-defarge-in-a-tale-of-two-cities-adjacent? oh, maybe.

my mother doesn't want my sisters and me talking about her mother's death on social media, as it would increase the likelihood of my late uncle's terrible wife parachuting in to cultivate drama. (she's impressive, this wife: when my mom's dad died in the early aughts, she spent most of the funeral reception sidling up to my father in an attempt to starfuck her way to a relationship with his second wife.**) i don't think mentioning it in this context is problematic; we all have a fairly good idea of what we're doing here.

*i feel for writers who haven't been able to pivot to other beats as neatly as i did last year, and i know how lucky i am. said friend is so well-traveled that she could spend the next decade writing about trips she's already taken; she also top-edits guides. this is not about work.

**she actually slipped a wheedling letter and a packet of instant grits into his blazer's interior pocket.


i bought razor blades, soap, and kitty litter.
i arranged the second row of the quilt i started sewing together last night, then cut and basted fabric for a bunch of new pieces.
i went for a walk and picked up a prescription for joe.
i listened to a baxter dury record.
i switched pokémon go buddies.
i took some recycling downstairs.


i took a magnificent nap today, the sort of nap one idealizes in attempting relaxation for the rest of one's life. the relaxation was not complete, but it was winning in its specificity: the little cat trilled a greeting at the hem of my blanket and crawled beneath it to prawn, snoring, against my stomach (reaching out to place his paw across my wrist in his sleep), i got to hear joe clatter and bang his way through bolognese in the kitchen (for the first time in a decade?) as i fell away from my book, and i did not have a jolting pandemic dream. i have decided to pretend that i am at a big house with my family for the next few days and so far it is just as therapeutic as i'd hoped it would be. the doomsday(?) preachers in union square were unusually equivocal this afternoon: "if you're okay with people lying to you...that's fine!"


J and O, the neighbors on the other side of the door to our stairwell, have kept a low profile since the before times. we didn't bump into each other so often then anyway, but since march i could count our meetings on one hand, though if you stand in a certain corner of either of our kitchens you should almost certainly be wearing pants. J is also a writer and has worked from home for many years; when we crossed paths in front of our bodega a month ago i mentioned how much i'd loved a piece he'd had in the best american travel writing. he thanked me for reading it and asked about how my work was going; i told him i'd been in a steady and supportive but maybe a bit opiate freelancing cul de sac for most of 2020. give me six pitches, stick a note on my door and i'll put it in front of the right people, he said — he's a decade and change older than i am and a writer at large for a fantastic magazine — and i thought that was a thing i would put together as a reward for hacking through the rest of this year's work. i ran into him again monday; he lacked his/my half-dozen, he said, and i mentioned the reward theory. it would be a reward for us to read them. wait, what i thought was small talk was J mentoring me? (i'd figured i'd always be feral.)

i taped a walter johnson postcard with a note and my email address on J's door, per his singular pitch instructions — J's a sports writer, among other things — and when he wrote, i sent him all the things today. at its best, my work is diligent, unexpected, and a bit creepy, i said in my janky formal note, and if all of this eddies down into Esoteric Ballads For The People, 2020 will have departed with a shred of honor.


i have developed my brand successfully enough that a friend sent me a link to a times piece about a rescued swan that was spirited to the bird hospital via bike, subway, ikea bag, and so on by another friend. longtime readers, and that would be all of you, i imagine, might remember my mentioning a favorite from said hospital a while back; that would be her, the teal-plumed virago i've known for most of the years i've headed uptown to my pigeon basement. since i haven't been there since february, i didn't know until reading that piece that she's left the staff to do something else (officially, at least, since she's clearly still muscling birds across town); that's the kind of news you end up acknowledging you're glad to have received at a distance, as you can't say with any confidence what your face might have done if you'd heard it in person.

volunteer friends at my bookstore, in turn, had been making noise about getting together for the past several weeks (the store has been closed since mid-march and shows ominous signs of being closed for good; that's another story), and none of us had contact information for A, a septuagenarian english UN lifer who lives out on roosevelt island and feeds me books like siegfried sassoon's memoirs of a fox-hunting man. no one was sure of his last name, even; why would we need to be sure of each other's last names when we all knew precisely where we'd coincide every week? someone had the vague idea that another former fellow volunteer might have his email address, but i decided that wasn't good enough and started digging around in old gothamist threads on posts about roosevelt island for commenters who sounded like him and shared his name. eventually i found one that began with Bunk! and sounded appropriately tetchy, so i cross-referenced the last name i found there with some neighborhood directories i found at another site, found a couple of phone numbers listed with an address on the island, then called one: alors, there was A's unmistakable accent in my ear! it's so lovely to catch up with you, i sang, i've read so many dreadful books since we saw each other last! (talking about books you've cherished is marvelous, but talking about the rotters is even better.) A and his wife have mostly retreated to their home up in ulster county and he wasn't able to come down for the first confluence of volunteers at a garden near nyu last week, but i did see V, who brought along the just-published german hardcover of her memoir about running a cinema on virgin gorda in the '70s and was very patient when we all insisted she pose at length with it. we'll coincide again soon, though we're going to have to do it at someplace like a museum; while it's temperate to the point of being uncomfortably warm indoors today, the city is conceding the season soon.


my friend F, a restaurant critic i met at a chef's dinner on a press trip in orlando years ago who told me that same night that his daughter had just been diagnosed with cancer and a car had crashed through the front wall of his house, just texted and said he'd been assigned to be my emotional support canadian and i cried all over my big stupid phone.