the dirty dozen-ish {notes from my hometown police blotter, as reported by the oc register}*

Disturbance. 12:52 p.m. The caller reported a man and a woman making out on the grass and said it's not appropriate.
Illegal peddling. 7:36 p.m. The caller reported a man going door to door and arguing when he's refused.
Disturbance. 11:37 a.m. The caller reported an argument with 16-year-old grandson over a computer.
Citizen assist. 12:46 p.m. The caller said someone is spitting on his car every morning. The caller thinks it's a neighbor who lives behind him.
Suspicious person/circumstances. 7:57 p.m. The caller reported a boy smoking marijuana behind the electrical shed.
Suspicious person/circumstances. 8:00 p.m. The caller said people are possibly lighting something on fire in the park.
Vandalism in progress. 12:27 p.m. The caller reported a woman lying down on the bus stop and writing on it with a pink marker.
Disturbance. 5:45 a.m. The caller reported inviting a woman over and said she is now refusing to leave.
Suspicious person/circumstances. The caller reported someone trying to get into a wedding party as an uninvited guest.
Disturbance. 1:26 p.m. The caller reported a man eating yogurt, yelling about the government and using bad language.
Disturbance. 11:37 p.m. The caller reported loud people who have hopped the fence and are in the pool.
Disturbance. 10:39 p.m. The caller reported four people on bicycles being loud.
Defrauding an innkeeper. The caller said a man drank $100 worth of alcohol and left without paying.
Suspicious person/circumstances. The caller reported a drunken man sleeping in the planter. The caller said there are newspapers all around him.
Suspicious person/circumstances. The caller reported hearing someone knocking on the door twice. The caller's husband turned on the light and saw shadows.

*inspired in part by chelsey johnson's excellent incident reports from park rapids, minnesota.


2nd street tunnel (1 of 4)

2nd street tunnel (2 of 4)

2nd street tunnel (3 of 4)

2nd street tunnel (4 of 4)

it was good to be in los angeles.


conversations at the corporate refrigerator {I}

1: are those little...gifts?
2: homemade pickles, actually.
1: is that how one usually wraps...?
2: i had all this painter's tape, i didn't want them leaking on the subway, and...here we are.
1: no one wants pickle juice on...
2: no one.


conversations with doctor omnibus* {omnibus on the road}

doc: not that you'll remember this because you won't come in then, but i'll be out the week of august 12th.
LMO: oh, are you going somewhere fun?
doc: the coast of oregon.
LMO: your daughter lives there, yes?
doc: she won't come and visit me because i said something she didn't like.
LMO: what did you say?
doc: i said, 'you were born on third base and think you hit a triple.'
LMO: sometimes daughters need to hear that.
doc: [...]
LMO: she'll get over it.
doc: [laughs merrily] like i care!

*have i ever mentioned that he's seventy? he's seventy.


People have gone to extraordinary lengths to coax rain from the Great Plains sky. For example, an experimental cloud-seeding program sponsored by the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Montana used high-speed jets to chase down and seed small clouds which often had a life span of less than thirty minutes. The program had plans equipped with laser probes, suction samplers, and armor plating against hail. In 1910, C.W. Post, the cereal magnate, began an ambitious rainmaking project on his 200,000 acres of the Texas plains. Post had noticed that in accounts of wars which he had read, heavy rains always seemed to follow artillery battles. He believed that with enough explosions he could produce rain. He blew off boxcars and boxcars of dynamite on the plains around his town of Post City, Texas. The dynamite was laid out on the ground and fired at intervals designed to simulate artillery barrages. Post and his staff kept at it for several years, and produced drizzles and one or two rainstorms, which encouraged him.

(ian frazier, from great plains)


box is box, 1

it's taken me some time to come around to writing about how chuck died. when we first started dealing with his cancer, it fortified me to think that talking about my research and how we used what we learned might benefit someone in a similar situation; i wanted so badly for his suffering to mean something. after failing so utterly to protect him - after losing him so quickly and so suddenly that i feel like a great hand came together out of nothingness and simply took him, he was taken - i don't know that i have the right to talk about guardianship at all.

back when our week-long trip to california and arizona to visit family still seemed like a possibility, i cancelled our plans with our customary petsitter and arranged for a vet tech from our oncologist's office to come take care of chuck and steve. though she seemed wonderful and had much more experience with veterinary chemo patients than we did, it didn't feel anything like right to leave chuck, and i dropped out of our plans. i spent a morning on what felt like grief burlesque, calling hotels, rental car companies, and airlines to explain that i needed the indulgence of a refund because my cat was dying. you don't know me, but i'm about to fall apart on the phone to you because my cat is dying. i should be the one to call everyone, joe said, because it's harder to refuse a crying woman. he was right, i suppose, as everyone but jetblue agreed to let me out of my portion of our commitments. they had lost animals too, those representatives in phoenix and los angeles, and they were so sorry. my voice was gone by the time i took down the last cancellation number. it was such a relief to know i wouldn't be leaving him, that my vacation could be a week with him in our apartment.

march in my desk calendar is full of mysterious initials; i haven't referred to it in months. i continued giving chuck mirtazapine, his appetite stimulant, for a few more days, and started him on zofran, an anti-nausea medication, which did little to keep him from throwing up prednisone, his oral steroid. on our oncologist's orders, we stopped giving him leukeran, the oral chemo that works on 80 percent of cats with lymphoma (but not ours). on thursday, march 14, i begged a livery cab driver not to kick me out of his sedan for having a cat in my bag - he was so sick, i just needed to get him to his vet for a follow-up ultrasound and a flow cytometry test (a last-ditch non-biopsy attempt to diagnose small-cell lymphoma), he wouldn't leave any kind of residue in the car - but we returned to the cold and the curb anyway. you've got to go, mami. on friday, march 15, joe flew to arizona and i brought chuck back to the vet to take a chance on elspar, the $500 one-time subcutaneous chemo that, if effective, would confirm for us that he had large-cell lymphoma. more prednisone and zofran that weekend, and no change from the elspar. posters on the lymphoma message board told me i needed to educate myself about "assisted feeding," so i watched a bunch of youtube videos of a woman who assured me her cat wasn't traumatized in the slightest. on st. patrick's day, without joe's knowledge or consent, i bought high-calorie food and three impossibly huge syringes from the little pet shop near our old apartment in hell's kitchen. i stayed in bed all of the next day, curled around the limp C of chuck like the border of a copyright symbol.

our oncologist called on tuesday to tell me that the flow cytometry had confirmed once and for all that we were dealing with small-cell lymphoma. i took the train back up to her office for cytoxan, a different oral chemo, and more zofran. joe came back from arizona on wednesday, the first day of spring, and we steeled ourselves for new, more serious treatment. there are notations for C, C3, and CER smattered across that week in my calendar - i think CER was a different kind of appetite stimulant? - and little Vs for each day chuck vomited. there was no vomiting by thursday or friday of that week, as i think he'd stopped drinking water at that point. he was holed up at the back of my underwear shelf in the closet, back where i used to accidentally poke him in the nose because i couldn't see him when i reached for a bra in the dark.

on saturday morning i pulled him from that cubby as gently as possible, and he staggered when i set him down. i unwrapped one of those horrible syringes and the food i tried to coax into chuck's mouth didn't even make it; he couldn't close his mouth. we took one last black car up the west side highway to one of our oncologist's colleagues, who made it clear that leaving chuck to be stabilized at the clinic overnight would be a long shot at best. my chuck, the thought of you dying alone in a cage in that place crumpled me like a tissue.

we were ushered down to an underground room with a leather couch. chuck came back to us in a little plush donut of fabric, arranged to look as if he could stand up whenever he felt like it. i thanked him for taking care of jude for so many years, and for teaching steve how to be a cat. i told him i knew we were for each other at the shelter in san francisco when i turned back to see his little black ears crest the bottom of the window, when he stood watch for me for the first time. i told him i was so lucky to have a shadow, and i told him i was so sorry. we pressed the little buzzerless button to summon the vet back.

a thin young guy with a beat-up acoustic guitar boarded the train home with us at bryant park and sang.

wouldn't that save you?
wouldn't that save you?
wouldn't that save you?

a few weeks later i got a call about picking up chuck's ashes. the bag with the box and our vets' notes of condolence included a little plaster piece with the impression of chuck's paw, something i consented to before they left us and that they made after he died. CHARLIE BRONSON stamped around the edge. they'd gotten his name wrong at intake a month earlier and i never corrected it; i'd told myself he was at the doctor's with an alias, and that nothing could happen to him if they couldn't call him by his name. i want to throw it in the river.


I did not know one person in Montana. I sat in the house and tried to write a novel about high school; I went for walks, drank quarts of Coors beer, listened to the radio. At night, a neighbor's horse shifted his weight from hoof to hoof out in the trees, and sometimes cropped grass so near I could hear him chew. The first snowstorm blew in from the north, and crows crossed the sky before it like thrown black socks.

(ian frazier, from great plains)