the dirty dozen-ish {excerpts from yelp reviews of times square}

01 Smell the smells - like nothing else I can describe - a mish mash of hot dogs, fries, donuts, smoke, coffee, nuts, traffic smog. I said to my husband 'wow the smell is so, so, so" and he interrupted me and replied "that is the New York smell!"

02 We arrived 6am to be in the front row next to the MTV building. We shook hands with everyone from Carson Daly to Rudy Giuliani, from Jessica Simpson to N'Sync. Across the street at a Planet Hollywood event some months later, we met P Diddy, N'Sync (again), Sly Stallone, Sandra Bullock, and others. My enduring memory is that I was taller than Stallone and he had a river-full of cologne on. Good times.

03 Spiderman will cook you dinner on the right street corner if you find him. It's true! There is a guy in a spider man costume that has a sheesh cart! It's pretty awesome to watch.

04 And who regulates how many Elmo's are permitted to be circulating ? And how can those Nepalese woolen hat places afford their rent on such a huge space ?

05 But watch out for the ones dressed up as characters; ie elmos, Batman's, hulks, and especially the Minnie mouses, THEY ARE RELENTLESS and they will straight bombard you in a mob like demeanor . Karate chop for Minnie Bro.

06 I'm not fond of cats, but the show is great! 

07 There was also a big police presence in every corner around Times Square with automatic weapons out and ready to use. So I felt very safe around Times Square.

08 Times Square and its table were also home to my worst NYC experience, where an angry woman flat out stole my friend's chair for no other reason than to spite us. 

09 I came once when I was 17/18 and got burped on (I say "on" because the lady was really close to me and I felt her burp vibration on my skin) by a beggar.

10 Stay away from the Disney store unless you plan to go in it. 

11 Does anyone even know the words to Auld Lang Syne? My Grandma and Grandpa sure did. 

12 I take away one star because of the FACT that there were con artists on the sidewalk.

13 Don't even get me started on the subliminal messages.

14 Pricey, but what else do you make money for, right?

15 [O]n any given Saturday night you will see hordes of shit faced drunks stumbling around the area looking for either sex or a subway.


i found some songbird shit on our stump/table on the balcony this afternoon! this is a huge deal: we're up on the eighteenth floor, and we're lucky to see an occasional gull wheeling by on its way across the river, like, once a fortnight. pigeons like to roost and even nest on our neighbors' air conditioning units just a floor or two down, but not ours, never ours.* why they will not let us love them is beyond me. but: a pea-sized clump of healthy songbird shit (nice hue and consistency, buddy)! some little fella made it all the way to our place and took some time for reflection! it was, in all seriousness, thrilling—even when i spaced out and plunked my glass down on top of it, then carried it inside and to our coffee table. passerine traveler, i salute you.

i haven't been up to the bird hospital for—checking my volunteer login calendar—two months, and only twice this year. i was traveling in january and february and scrambling to file articles before and after each of those trips; i then got a tattoo at the end of february and felt i should take a week or two to myself before splashing it with bleach and, you know, songbird shit. i'd get messages from the volunteer coordinator (for the first time since i started working there!) saying that they had so very many interns that, for a couple of weeks, they didn't need any more hands on deck. then the city started taking coronavirus seriously.

as of last week, the word was that two volunteers could share the basement space with staffers at a time, and the hospital was eager for those volunteers (and the interns were long gone). i am not worried about what would/will happen to me, but i am very concerned about my many elderly neighbors, so i was trying to game out a way to commute a hundred blocks uptown without taking public transportation. a citibike halfway, then a couple of miles each way on foot? all of it on foot? i could do that, joe and i have walked the length of the island several times, but i'd have been tired-ish by the time i got to the upper west side, and it's both intensely physical and very delicate work. you can't do injections or tube-feed babies when you're wobbly. then we got a note from our building saying that several of our neighbors have tested positive, and that we should spend as little time as possible in the hallways and elevators. i'm already buying groceries for one of our friends downstairs, and i decided that i couldn't justify being a potential vector. i don't know how new city policies are going to apply to the hospital now that most of new york is shut down. i realize that worrying about baby birds at a time like this probably makes me a monster. it has been so long since i've been able to take care of them.

we are about as comfortable as two people can be in a pandemic: two adults who've been together for donkey's years, two dependents we outweigh quite handily that are satisfied with meat-paste and Warm Objects That Hold Still, one job with benefits that can't disappear and another that is flexible enough to carry on plausibly for now. three of our parents seem to be behaving sensibly, and the other seems at least sort of susceptible to peer pressure from me, my sisters, and my stepsister. i am keenly aware of the privilege dripping from every bit of that.

i still think, every now and again, about the website reviewer who called me trite and insular back in 2001(-2?) when my posts about 9/11 didn't acknowledge world events to her satisfaction. nothing about what i do here has ever been a particularly snappy rejoinder to that; all four of you know that this is something else.

our friend TJ is/was the house DJ for the red sox, the pats, and the bruins, jobs he began to cobble together after years of writing the sox to say "here i am!" in what i imagine was a very frank black voice. in this new world of ours, he's started streaming uncertain times, a radio show he started last week and is now helming from 10-noon(ish) ET so far on weekdays. he has always been very gracious about my distant exhortations to play bowie at fenway, and he played "peace, love and understanding" after we talked about it online a few days ago, and i cried. have we talked about competence porn here? TJ's show is competence porn.

here's a song for les and / here's a song for les and ray.

*neighbors two floors down have gone so far as to hang a plastic owl from their kitchen window to try to keep the pigeons away. i don't know if it's working, but it's an utterly delightful silhouette to see when i look out and down from our kitchen window.


so i was watching an *exquisitely* bad supernatural romance last night, and the hero—a very good actor, and the sort of person you'd really dig in to believe if the lines he was delivering were plausible at all—announced in a super-flat voice that he was madly in love, after, oh, three weeks and for the first time in like 1,500 years with the heroine. "same," she more or less said as one would announce that they'd been tagged in an instagram photo of someone's cocktail. this has probably obvious to everyone but me for a very long time, but i feel like i just understood that fictional characters make super-explicit romantic declarations because writers and directors are either not talented enough or too lazy to show them acting on affection for one another the way actual humans do. so people feel less-than when their own lovers don't show up with TO ME YOU ARE PERFECT signs when actually-actually a move like that is just a big failure of art to imitate life. just me? okay. i'm going to keep watching the show, though.


it occurred to me as i angry-treadmilled to the tv news this afternoon that while i haven't formally attempted a 101 in 1001 ("complete 101 preset tasks in a period of 1001 days") list for nearly five years, i've probably managed to take down a bunch of items from my last one anyway—and i totally did! way to go, haphazard me!

original start date: 10 june 2012
original end date: 08 march 2015

items completed: 023
items remaining: 078

...and since then,

additional items completed: 14

[004]: visit pittsburgh [see 09.28.15]
boy howdy do we love the 'burgh: since that first fall trip in 2015, the missus and i have driven back out three more times. while item 014 ("visit mari in atlanta") is now impossible, she and her family are now PA-based, and we've taken down the great race (my all-time favorite 10K, a crowded but delightfully citywide thing) with them three times. ask for "pittsburgh, you're my kind of town" in my best springsteen growl if we see each other in person; it's even better than the songs i invent for the cats.

[026]: go to the opera [completed october 2015]
baby's first opera was tannhäuser at the met, and while an old-school, nearly-four-hour (plus three intermissions, as i recall) take on early wagner might not seem like the most intuitive call, the friend* who facilitated our extremely good seats (he used to represent performers and is tight with the folks who film and simulcast the met's performances in HD) also talked us through the teutonic shenanigans. we went on to see an utterly stunning magic flute at the teatro dell'opera di roma (i cried like a baby and got a moth tattoo a few days later, which was technically coincidental but still), and we've been back to the met with the same opera-ringer pal for pelléas et mélisande (debussy's only opera). i have worn the same thrifted balenciaga tent dress to all three, and, weirdly, have yet to wear the black velvet opera coat i found at a vintage store on our first trip to pittsburgh? guess we have to hit some more operas.

[031]: get my name printed in the new york times [completed 09.01.19]
my first and twitter names turned up as part of patricia lockwood's "live nude dads read the sunday paper" project, but that assembled poem was online-only, and c'mon, it's much more satisfying to have debuted thus. that was a journey: i convinced myself a dozen different times over the course of several months that the piece wouldn't run, despite universally supportive communication from my editor and joe's exhortations to, like, breathe into a paper bag and go to bed already. i have now accepted that it can't be taken away and am working on new pitches! the travel section would seem like the most natural fit, but i can't write for it, as i've taken press trips (which are strictly forbidden for its contributors). i considered a modern love writeup about the series of late-night DMs i got last summer from a guy who turned me down when i asked him to senior prom and wanted me to know a couple of decades later that he was wrong to have done so, but that seemed...fraught. inspired by "my so-karen life,"** i was thinking about rites of passage...which now seems to be on hiatus. that said, i am unfazed (and am also going to get off my ass and aim at the new yorker this year).

[039]: spend the night on a boat [see 08.25.17].
i've now hit the atlantic for CRESLI's three-day great south channel trip three years in a row and am addicted to both cetaceanspotting and turning in with the thrum of an engine under my belly and stars and spray on my back. that trio of trips was pretty bare-bones: i brought a sleeping bag, a plush peep, and a pillowcase, and i dragged my lumpy vinyl cot mattress up to the top deck of our temporarily-mostly-repurposed fishing boat as often as i could (every night but one so far, i think?). i love whale watching, but i also love the formal restrictions of spending extended time on a small vessel in unpredictable conditions; i love pelagic birds, a deck heaving under my flip-flops, brushing my teeth and spitting over the stern. joe has yet to join me on any of those trips, but he flew out as my plus-one for a working trip on a small ocean liner in northern europe last fall: we flew to berlin and spent a few days revisiting falafel and oktoberfest, then took a coach to rostock and swooped out for a week of danish and norwegian port-hopping. the jump from a craft with 60 passengers to one with 900*** is not insignificant, despite the prevalence of NPR enthusiasts on both in these cases: the latter was unquestionably a luxury cruise (with on-board history and astronomy pros, balconies and cashmere blankets for all, shitting-you-not edvard munch originals [on loan from museums] on the walls...you get the idea). i had never been on A Cruise, and i am not sorry i tried one; the peoplewatching was top-hole, and i appreciated the opportunity to snack on destinations we might like to revisit. the sleep quality, ironically, ended up being comparable to what i've experienced on my CRESLI trips, albeit for reasons at the other end of the spectrum: at one point i acquired a wool blanket that pleased me so well that i was too excited to nap.**** we are unlikely to take another cruise, but i would consider recommending one on that particular line to, say, my parents, if they were intent on that particular sort of trip. tl;dr: more (hopefully small and/or eco-friendly) boats in the '20s.

[043]: spend a night in the hudson valley [completed 09.18]
when did we first go to the hudson valley? have we met? what is time? joe reminds me that we drove out to hudson for the afternoon when we spent a long weekend in narrowsburg in the fall of 2015, and that we didn't actually spend the night there until september 2018, when we shared an airbnb with friends for basilica soundscape (a weekend music festival) and were accosted by an extremely friendly tuxedo cat whose tag announced him to be BLACK BAT. we headed back again on a road trip last may and stayed at tiger house, a former hunting lodge that was a b&b at the time (i think it's now closed?). i am exceedingly fond of spotty dog (a bookstore/bar) and BLACK BAT, obviously. we did not solve a murder mystery at tiger house and should probably buy it so we can fix that.

[046]: swim with the coney island polar bear club [see 01.02.16].
it felt a bit like cheating to join the new year's day plunge in 2016, as coney island was positively balmy that morning compared to early januaries past and since, but look: i was pretty goddamn cold anyway (it wasn't the ocean itself, it was the interminable waiting to run into the ocean that killed me; i felt much better afterward, what with the adrenaline and the beer. one member of our foursome, previously unknown to me, is now a semi-regular Political Yelling at Bars Companion of mine; another was already an ice-bath devotee and has since gone to poland and iceland to celebrate wim "the iceman" hof's cold-therapy method. pro tips: bring someone who doesn't want to strip down and jump in the water with you but is willing to watch your clothes and towel and give you someplace to run when you're staggering back like an idiot, and wear thick socks.

[054]: go camping [completed 09.16]
i have yet to attempt a trip that doesn't involve running an all-night trail relay race at the same time, but the running shouldn't invalidate the camping, should it? on that first soggy weekend in new jersey for ragnar trail wawayanda lake, the terrain was so muddy that i'd crash in my diminutive leopard-print tent (you're a goddamn wonder, apartment tent) with my feet through the flap, exposed to the rain. with four ragnars now under my belt, i think i'm ready at last for regular camping, but i'm bringing The Grim Runner (my little angel of death with a custom pink sweatband) anyway.

[058]: visit the new york botanical garden [see 08.09.16]
guessing it won't surprise you that i found my trip to see the corpse flower in 2016 significantly more exciting than a trip to see the holiday train show. what can i say? i like fake corpses and real trains, thanks.

[078]: run a (public) 10K [completed 12.15?]
i've lost count of 10Ks, but i know that at least five have been on flat, scenic, PR-friendly roosevelt island (which should be an easy ride on the F train, but in 2020 even i can admit that there are no more easy rides on the F train; now i usually get there via the tramway and traumatize fellow passengers with my Run Funk, unavoidable in such a small space). i remind my septuagenarian friend and fellow bookstore volunteer A, a former UN official and longtime island resident, that i am both protecting and stalking him via these 10Ks, and he seems pleased.

[087]: visit the new york city tenement museum [completed...i have no idea, i pass it like every day and i think i'm trying to forget the visit to protect myself]
what's nastier than a doll-sized tram over the east river when you've just finished a 10K? the new york city tenement museum between march and october. i love my neighborhood and i love that earnest grad students introduce it to tourists, but i'm tired of sharing the sidewalk with all of them. get out of here, butter.

[090]: beat my new york times sunday crossword time (18 min)
i'm down to 11:35, which is not too shabby! that said, i hadn't read a thing about the american crossword puzzle tournament before registering and booking a hotel room for it and—get this—genuinely thought i could roll up and win. tell my family i loved them.

[096]: go to the hamptons
i think we've aged out of the sharing-a-group-house-for-the-weekend stage of engaging with the hamptons, and that's for the best, as the lunch, shopping, and gas-stationing stops i've made en route to montauk and back have been less than inspirational. montauk i like very much, though i'm conscious of being the sort of summer person who's helped make it too expensive for families to vacation there in recent years, and i'm not prepared to pay several hundred dollars a night for a long weekend in a fashionably-upcycled motel. i have made my peace with this.

[098]: figure out a wall treatment for the kitchen
i bought a bunch of black oil paint pens a few years ago and have been late-night doodling from the floor up ever since. it is immensely satisfying.

[099]: visit three new-to-me states
kinda hazy on this one, but i know kentucky, louisiana, mississippi, missouri, and north carolina are all in there. it's like we have a car now or something!

*kevin has the best ideas: he also organized our Black Tie Bar Crawl a few years ago, when we all dressed up within an inch of our lives and hit la grenouille and the four seasons (RIP). we would have kept crawling, but when we got to the four seasons's bar and asked for glasses of champagne, they just...kept coming, and we hadn't had dinner, so we fled to sakagura for ballast. fun fact: joe and i had dinner at the four seasons (dressed less formally, as it happens) after getting legally hitched (prior to our proper oxford wedding) in 2006.

**i enjoyed "my so-karen life" so much that i went to follow the writer, sarah miller, on twitter—and discovered that she's been following me for some time, which made me feel like a million bucks. a solid reminder that i should be following liberally.

***a 900-person cruise ship is considered a small cruise ship: the largest liners in the world accommodate more than 6,000 passengers.

****full disclosure: i bought that blanket for the cats (who appreciate it as much as i do and are much better at napping).


when i was a kid, fellow southern californians were obsessed with The Big One—it was not only inevitable, it was immediately imminent—and i remember kicking some nerf product across our semi-bricked patio in the late eighties, thinking well, this is how the world ends, and picturing the chasm. it came again when bush the first declared war on iraq and i expected my fellow kids to walk out of school in protest (no one walked out of school). i return rather a lot to the morning my college roommate's mother called to alert her and me to what had happened in new york city, two weeks after i started writing here, almost two decades ago. san francisco was convinced it was the next target (after the world trade center and the pentagon, one strikes the golden gate bridge, of course). roommate and i drove from russian hill down to market and passed a cafe because it was the only storefront that had opened its grate: "WE STILL HAVE EGGS," a maitre'd called to no one as a newscast blared behind him, "EGGS!"

[msnbc is running ads for erection pills and annuities]

my dad and i walked around the central park reservoir a couple of times this afternoon; we talked about cognitive dissonance, how we don't think we've become more centrist over the years, and how a lot of the people i encounter on social media are probably too young to have vivid memories of bush v. gore. he offered that he thinks my stepsister, once focused on a single issue, is now woke. ("woke" is new in our conversations; he refers to "the twitters." in return, i introduced shit the bed.)

maudlin and anxious, i insisted on a few extra awkward hugs before joe went to sleep tonight. i then settled back into our expansive couch.



i zapped some of the vegetable dumplings i had the foresight to bring home on new year's eve.
i thought about running six miles and ran four miles.
i ran, emptied, and loaded the dishwasher a couple of times.
i entered a crossword puzzle tournament and booked a hotel for the weekend (hotel gal: "you kick butt in that tournament!").
i ate some of the blood orange bread pudding we made and flambéd last night.
i trimmed our little cat's claws.


i'll have read at least 60 books by the end of this year! let's ignore the fact that i am a childless freelance writer and pretend that it is a proper feat. this is how i've felt about the last dozen (part 1 of 2).

verge (lidia yuknavitch): i have already forwarded my advance copy of this short-story collection to a friend, which might have been a terrible idea: there's wonderful stuff in there, to be sure, but there is also a (moving) story about a fellow with an artificial eye which might at one point have been called "eye of the beholder" (again, copy already forwarded). i liked it well enough that i took the book of joan (a novel) out of the library and will read it with gusto when i finish philip pullman's the secret commonwealth (lyra still seems a bit like a tween! the hbo adaptation kind of sucks!).

the contender: the story of marlon brando (william j. mann): mann's premise is that brando is a misunderstood dick, and this biography did little to shake that noun; he seems to have been a lackadaisical pet-raccoon custodian, a terrible romantic partner (in the loosest possible sense of the term), and a flaky activist. (disclosure: i have not seen on the waterfront.) i am prepared to revisit my opinion of brando via another biographer, but i expect deirdre-bair-level energy.*

catch and kill (ronan farrow): farrow's indictment of harvey weinstein, matt lauer, and his former employers at nbc is searing; i admit that as a self-centered former research chief, my first reaction to his impeccably-sourced work is predictable. you know the #metoo story, but the background is worth your time; it's also reason number four thousand and eighty-seven to appreciate gives-zero-fucks rachel maddow. passed this one to the same friend who received verge and i appreciate that she still wants to hang on new year's eve.

in the dream house (carmen maria machado): i loved CMM's short-story collection and knew her memoir would be wonderful; i didn't know that she would reframe my understanding of both queer abuse and emotional abuse as a general proposition. i want very much to pass this to one person in particular, as i think it would help her understand her past—as machado says, "if you need this book, this is for you"—but the person i have in mind has some extenuating circumstances. if you can read it now, please do.

the elusive moth (ingrid winterbach): woof. my literary experience with south africa is mostly limited to a couple of j.m. coetzee novels, and i was decidedly unready for this one, which is a painterly (literally, winterbach is also a painter) take on a small free state community in the '90s and a woman who returns there to Find Herself. the sense of place and history is strong, but the characters flit out of your hands like (don't say it, don't say it). (aside: while the novel's english translation is called the elusive moth, it's named for its protagonist, karolina ferreira, in the original afrikaans.) i would like to say that i'm getting better at reading experimental/ish fiction in my dotage, but this confounded me a bit unless i thought of it as a tone poem. i don't think that's what i was meant to think.

the silence of the girls (pat barker): it's hard to talk about this one without talking about madeline miller's circe and the song of achilles (both of which i also read this year, in that order); those novels are both what i would consider high-romantic takes on myth, and i found the former much more successful than the latter (achilles is just a dirtbag, even through the eyes of a devoted narrator as in miller). barker's novel leans into achilles-as-dirtbag, but she does it in an unapologetically contemporary way that's somehow even more off-putting than miller's occasionally-stilted style: i don't expect achilles and agamemnon (and briseis, the trojan woman at the core of barker's novel and homer's epic) to sound homeric, but i don't know that i'm ready for them to sound fully modern (with modern-ish slang!). i thought after reading miller that i wanted to see old villains in newer clothes, but barker made me realize that i actually want to see marginalized characters in properly heroic (and traditional!) weeds. briseis doesn't need a translator: she needs room where she lives.

*deirdre bair is one of the greatest biographers of all time. don't @ me.


we realized a few months ago, abruptly and pretty decisively, that it would be a good idea to leave new york city and move to portland (oregon). joe's work situation was horrifically stressful and seemed unlikely to improve; given his status as a tenured civil servant, transitioning to something outside of city work with analogous literal and figurative benefits would be difficult if not impossible; our parents (and sisters' children) are still young and fun and we would like to spend more time with them; the idea of new york money in oregon was inexpressibly sexy. i sat and thought about what our lives would look like if we stayed here for the next decade and felt that i would like to not know what would come next. i have a pretty good idea of what we would be if we persisted here.

i had a dream about psychoanalysis a couple of nights ago, or about the trappings of psychoanalysis. i was reviewing an insurer's bill for a terribly long group session, and it included both copays and little instances of self-awareness: at one point someone demonstrated admirable growth and got a twenty-five-cent credit, at another point someone else broke down and incurred an extra fee. there was an occasional incidental charge for slicing cake? (i don't have a non-dreamland group session, or any sort of session. i gave up on doctor omnibus a year ago when i cried in front of him for the first time—about loneliness over the holidays, in fact!—and he wouldn't look me in the eye.)

we spent a week in portland to see how it would feel, and while most locals were absolutely lovely i cracked a number of times because i missed pigeons (there are pigeons in portland, but it's not the same) and because new york is unquestionably my home. that said, we're going to save, and think, and approach portland again in—a year? joe's work situation has improved but is still dodgy. i still feel that if we don't exercise our DINK privilege and broaden our horizons we deserve to be recycled.

i have spent more than a decade telling myself that i am a better daughter/sister/partner because i am the best version of myself when i live in this city. while i know i wasn't wrong, i don't feel that i'm quite right.


the dirty dozen {excerpts from yelp reviews of crystal springs rhododendron garden*}

01 During our trip to Portland to see extended family, I set a goal of walking as much as I could.

02 I came across this online and realized it's not too far from our house. I thought it would be a nice excuse to get outside and do something on a decent weather day.

03 I will say there was one very big duck that I definitely got frightened of and I felt like the other ducks could probably feel my fear.***

04 Some poor fool was disappointed that there was no "foods."  It's a fucking park, bring a picnic for yourself if you must have "foods" "because this is America ."

05 I went to the garden and the lady at the front desk had the audacity to yell at me and my Girl Scout troop. All we did was walk up to have a ceremony with my girls to celebrate growth in there life. and she screamed at us with a horrible tone.

06 Not a concern unless you have a bee allergy. It is a garden, so there are, naturally, bees around the area. Be aware of this if you are allergic to bees. 

07 Turns out I spoiled an opportunity to get proposed to in the rain on the bridge by the lake. It's a perfect setting to be proposed to. The person that gets propose to here would be lucky. 

08 Watch some birds do bird things.  Sit by a pond or lake.  Stare down a squirrel.  All around good times.

09 If you're having a tough time deciding whether you want to procreate, there are usually enough well-behaved, cute kids here to push you over on the side of spending the quarter million dollars it will cost you over 18 years. And then you, too, can take your own cute, well-behaved kids here and hear them scream, "Look at the weird duck, Mommy!"

10 It's a garden. And like the many other gardens, foliage, parks, and recreational destinations in and around Portland, it's gorgeous, well maintained, and generally awesome. I love shit like this.

11 On the way out there was an enormous road sign that said "Inmate Work Crew Ahead" that wasn't there on the way in.  Now, I'm sure they were all non-violent offenders but if I was a Mom with an infant in tow I think I would be a bit unnerved.

12 They have some hideous and rare type of goose here that has a red fleshy head similar to a turkey.  Does anyone know what this hag bird is?****

*where we saw our first nutria!** we thought they were beavers and then that they were muskrats, but no, they were nutria.

**i pity the nutria, and the other invasive species portland rehabbers like the local audubon society won't help; it's not their fault they were brought here for their fur. we're an invasive species, too, and our fur is worthless. 

***i'd totally forgotten joe is afraid of waterfowl until he startled away from a couple of canada geese. geese, no less! i'm a goose whisperer, he totally gets the family and friends discount!

****yeah, a muscovy duck, hater.


i was back at the bird hospital for the first time in three months today. they probably didn't need me; they lacked volunteers in the morning and evening, but three of the four slots in the afternoon were filled. i offered to clean the isolation ward, which is my customary power move, but the staffers asked me to give pigeons baths* instead, which is fine. i'm great at giving pigeons baths! rosa, one of the center's two house grackles, assumed a decidedly feline loaf position over my left shoulder as i sat on a bin of ferret food and gave a formerly-tanglefoot-addled pigeon a post-bath blowout. we're not supposed to talk to patients, but rosa is a permanent resident, and it is delightful to squeeble with her; she raises the feathers on the back of her head if you make a solid point. one of the pigeons i bathed and dried started stargazing — a lovely term that, sadly, describes a likely neurological disorder — and the staffers hastened to tell me that the stress of getting the bath probably revealed the pigeon's issues, it wasn't my fault, goodness. i saw the hospital's founder a few minutes later: "it's been a while!" i wanted to and did not hug her. a guy who was filming the hospital for reasons i never asked about came and got me giving another pigeon a bath; i pushed an old broom aside so he'd have a clear shot. i don't know if he wanted me to narrate my bird-washing procedure, but he left after a few minutes and i was glad.

*the pigeons i bathed were covered with tanglefoot, an ostensible perching-bird deterrent that cripples those birds.


talking about how i've missed you is a blog cliché. forget it, who can confirm it if it's just us.

i have settled into a freelance writing career that doesn't make me throw up (more than once or twice a year)! i've been to nice and the isle of greece (and have gotten to the point where i judge hosts who don't welcome me with themed novelty chocolates)! i wrote a dorky piece for the new york times, and while i'd love to have been cool about it, i bought three copies at our bodega and told them why!

we're doing this, is what i'm saying.


the next dirty dirty relay trail race is in like a month! i am not our team captain but i have decided to take the wheel on making shirts.

the dirty dozen {twelve youtube comments on dexys midnight runners' "come on eileen"}

01 I told my dad that the denim look was how I pictured all of the 70s/80s people, he said I was accurate but also told me to piss off
02 i can't wait for this dystopia where we all wear jean overalls
03 Always after me lucky charms.
04 I'm dedicating this song to my latest nurse Eileen.
05 "Me Too Ra, Too Ra, Too Ra Ay Era" doesn't quite have the same ring to it...
06 This song gets such huge airplay over Trader Joe's PA system.
07 Distinct Celtic pimp vibes with this
08 It's about being a catholic.
09 bros help bros. thats just what they do
10 Every time this song comes on, the rest of the prisoners laugh at me.
11 It has that Irish tone that makes people happy.
12 Better than that stalker Sting.