RIP, la femina

It was possible, in seventeenth- and eighteenth-century England, to die of Bleach and of Blasted, of Cramp and of Itch, of Sciatica and of Lethargy. You could be carried off by Cut of the Stone, or King's Evil, or Planet-struck, or Rising of the Lights. You could succumb to Overjoy, which sounds like a decent way to go, or be Devoured by Lice, which does not. You could die of Stopping of the Stomach, or Head-Ach, or Chin-cough, or Teeth. You could die of HorseshoeHead, though don't ask me how. You could die of being a Lunatick. You could die of, basically, death: "Suddenly"; "Killed by several Accidents"; "Found dead in the Streets," You could die of Frighted, and of Grief.

(kathryn schulz, from "final forms," new yorker 04.07.14)


the wildlife center's founder poked her head in the treatment room. "we have an eighty-nine-year-old volunteer. all she can do is chop vegetables. do you have something for her?" "sure," one of the rehabbers replied. "she can quarter fresh blueberries for the songbirds." we wiped down and disinfected the table on which we'd been feeding seeds and puppy chow to fledgling pigeons and assembled a station for the volunteer, who planted her feet and prepped enough blueberries for every little bird in our flyway and the tri-state area.


the dirty dozen {mystery train,* round VI}

how times change! i worried in the fifth installment of this guess-who's-reading-what series that the male reader was going extinct; in 2014 he is all up in my trains, and he is spending a lot of time on personal care (male reader all up in my trains, i salute you). he's still wildly outnumbered by the commuters playing candy crush on their smartphones, of course, but he's there, he's earnest, and at some point he'll make it to the second page of the pale king (sweet, bearded thirteenth reader who just missed my count this time, i salute you as well).

as in previous posts, i've linked the title of each book to descriptions and cover images, mostly from powell's.** when a book and its reader are paired correctly, i'll update the lists; if you need hints, i'll compose haiku on request. who's the urban farmer? what do the people in headphones play as they read? where were the schoolchildren headed? is all of this facial hair here to stay? if amazon were a buffy-the-vampire-slayer-universe monster of the week, what sort of monster would it be? i await your responses!

{the readers}

01 F, late 20s, long, straight brown hair under bumpy knitted cream beanie, black knee-length puffer with fur-edged hood, double gold ring on left middle finger, thick solid gold ring on right middle finger, short black nails, black tights, high-heeled buckled brown booties, black prada bucket bag in lap, B train [sharp objects, gillian flynn - anon comes to life like a filmic killer]

02 M, late 30s, smooth tan knit skullcap pulled low on forehead, heavy olive green hooded puffer over popped black denim collar and paisley silk scarf, slim black trousers, black socks, cap-toe black oxfords, B train

03 M, late 20s, floppy dark hair, trimmed beard, black pea coat with copious pockets over green hoodie, thick brown scarf, blue topo designs backpack bristling with pens worn on both shoulders, cuffed raw denim jeans, brown moccasins, D train

04 F, 20s, wavy black pixie cut with purple ombre bangs, high silver ear cuffs, blue puffer with white-fur-trimmed hood and antarctica patch, rust scarf, black slacks, two-tone brown leather oxfords, raw leather messenger bag, pen in hand, F train

05 F, late teens, two-tone rectangular glasses, pink-streaked light brown hair in folded bun, flowered scarf, brown coat with white polka dots fading into pink roses, dark jeans, high-heeled brown leather boots, B train [the double helix, james d. watson - anon, TCB w/r/t DNA]

06 M, early 30s, teal rectangular glasses, black mustache and goatee, back-of-the-head black neoprene earmuffs, green army jacket, dark jeans, white pumas, F train

07 M, 20s, shiny black oversized headphones, floppy brown bangs, short beard, blue and rust plaid shirt buttoned over black tee, open khaki jacket, slim grey jeans, orange and blue lace-up vans, padded black backpack between legs, B train

08 M, late 60s, short, wild white hair, rectangular rimless glasses worn low on nose, open black puffer coat, sunglasses tucked into neck of black tee, black messenger bag around neck, legs splayed, black basketball shoes, D train [july 1914: countdown to war, sean mcmeekin - jacob spies the urban soldier]

09 M, about 8, short ash brown hair with magnificent cowlick, yellow P.S. 10 tee, cargo pants, blue-, orange-, and yellow-shark-patterned backpack with pikachu keychain resting on feet, F train [flat stanley, jeff brown - i imagine valya's boys have a copy as well]

10 F, about 8, dark brown hair in braided ponytail with glittery silver rubber band, black pea coat and magenta cardigan over yellow P.S. 10 tee, light blue jeggings, black-and-grey paisley backpack between knees, F train [the field day from the black lagoon, mike thaler - per lisa, who's known me since we were both about that tall]

11 M, late 20s, long brown hair in high folded bun, mustache and narrow goatee, black collarless leather jacket zipped to chin, red chinos, white ankle socks, red slip-on vans, A train [delirious new york: a retroactive manifesto for manhattan, rem koolhaas - anon IDs the russian karim rashid]

12 M, late 20s, black headphones over pomaded hair, mustache waxed into curls, kelly green hooded down coat over tails-out striped oxford shirt, black slacks, maroon canvas sneakers, black backpack, holding stainless black antelope thermos, B train [ham on rye, charles bukowski - anon, greasespotting]

{the books}

ham on rye, charles bukowski
the administration of fear, paul virilio
delirious new york: a retroactive manifesto for manhattan, rem koolhaas
dune, frank herbert
flat stanley, jeff brown
flu: the story of the great influenza pandemic of 1918 and the search for the virus that caused it, gina kolata
sharp objects, gillian flynn
july 1914: countdown to war, sean mcmeekin
greenhorns: 50 dispatches from the new farmers' movement, zoe ida bradbury
salt sugar fat: how the food giants hooked us, michael moss
the field day from the black lagoon, mike thaler
the double helix, james d. watson

*tip of the hat, as always, to coverspy.

**we'll be making a pilgrimage to the pearl district mothership this july, and i am already weeks into hemming and hawing over which pair of underwear to throw at the rare books section.


AP: Analysis should do two things that are linked together. It should be about the recovery of appetite, and the need not to know yourself. And these two things—

PH: The need not to know yourself?

AP: The need not to know yourself. Symptoms are a form of self-knowledge. When you think, I'm agoraphobic, I'm a shy person, whatever it may be, these are forms of self-knowledge. What psychoanalysis, at its best, does is cure you of your self-knowledge. And of your wish to know yourself in that coherent, narrative way. You can only recover your appetite, and appetites, if you can allow yourself to be unknown to yourself. Because the point of knowing oneself is to contain one's anxieties about appetite. It's only worth knowing about the things that make one's life worth living, and whether there are in fact things that make it worth living.

(adam phillips to paul holdengräber, from "the art of nonfiction no. 7," the paris review spring 2014)