end notes: january

01 on kidney transplants for cats. previously-unknown-to-me factoid: as in most human renal transplant operations, the native kidneys stay put, so the donor kidney makes three. we lost a cat to kidney disease several years ago; i have no idea what we would do if one of our cats developed CRF now.

02 when WFUV's the alternate side stream dried up and we had to dig around for new internet radio, joe discovered FIP, née france inter paris, a 45-year-old advert-free french station (if you're in france, it broadcasts terrestrially at 105.1). we listen to it for a couple of hours every night.

03 in march we'll visit our friends sarah and judd at their winter superhero headquarters in the dominican republic. like them, i have started referring to it as the DR, which makes me feel vaguely like a junot díaz character. this—the visit, not the junot díaz thing—will score me cool points at ye olde charity bookstore cafe, where sarah's tale of learning to budget her fucks so she could do things like move to the caribbean is holy writ. i will make an effort to dress like ernest hemingway. it feels right.

04 we aimed our old red car at philadelphia for a spur-of-the-moment road trip over MLK weekend and acquired a variety of cheeses from amish people, delectable smoked-coconut sandwiches from a taproom, and a huge bag of hand-cut soap from a man in a striking sweater (i am particularly fond of the black pepper bar). in other soap news, i have switched from lush's charcoal-based dark angels cleanser back to their ocean salt, as the former was clinging to my face and i am not fly enough to make that work.

05 speaking of vegan food and smells, i am quite enjoying moby's memoir, which teems with both. moby's voice is appealingly self-effacing, his run-ins with fellow '90s a-listers are frequent and entertaining (i attended a handful of the southern california concerts he describes, which weirds me out a bit), and he knows when to back away from industry details that would bore non-musicians (looking at you, keith richards). i have a hundred pages to go, but i'm already willing to forgive him for his terrible, ricci-forward "natural blues" video.

06 the final-ish draft of an essay i've been writing since june of last year goes back to my editor this coming thursday. for about a month or so in the fall i was so nervous about said essay that i'd sneak out of bed at one or two in the morning and run a few miles to wheedle the adrenaline out of my legs. it will be the first personal piece i've published in a national magazine, and it's the sort of work i'd like to do in the future (not exclusively, christ, the idea of trying to make a living by writing about myself all the time makes me want to chug tile cleaner); i have psychic skin in this game. i really, really hope it's good.


on recumbent bikes at our soviet-era gym, my septuagenarian neighbors discuss winter storm jonas and storms of yore

1: on that snow day—it must have been when i was working, i never got snow days when i was going to college—i went to central park and i saw leonard bernstein, wearing a fur coat, it was the first time i ever saw that, a man wearing a fur coat.

previous discussion here.


you spread a towel across the floor; you fill two plastic litter pans with warm water and epsom salt and set them a foot apart on the towel. you test the water temperature with your elbow, you can't get a good feel for the heat through surgical gloves. you fold and roll a second towel and place it between the pans. D throws a towel over the swan's head and brings her, swaddled and thrashing, to the roll. when she's seated, you grab the swan's right ankle and force her foot into an epsom bath; a friend mirrors you on D's left. D sets her phone's timer for ten minutes and kicks it across the lobby, out of the splash zone. D is wearing jewelry, and you trade stories of songbirds unraveling friendship bracelets, of beads lost to canada geese, of the time a pigeon's cage ripped a favorite earring right out of your head. when D's phone chimes, you and the friend lift the swan's feet out of their baths. they're flat and black, huge, like moldering leaves; pink patches of new skin bloom in the spots where the swan's bumblefoot scabs have fallen off. you swipe up a tablespoon of udder balm from a pot on the floor and massage it into the swan's right foot, you swipe up a tablespoon of udder balm from a pot on the floor and massage it into the swan's left foot. the smell is the cloves, D says. you release the swan's left foot and remove the towel from her bowed head; she erupts from D's lap and the little girls in the lobby window are vowels.

a dotty-but-harmless, harry-dean-stanton-fallen-on-hard-times fellow met me at the counter at ye olde charity bookstore cafe yesterday; we chatted about the weather and how every time a big white truck parks on crosby at the front window i assume that we've been snowed in. he reappeared an hour later and told me, slowly, that i reminded him of a girlfriend he'd once had. that my sequined top was, that i was, liza minnelli, he trailed off and i didn't know what to do; he tipped forward and went blank and i didn't know what to do. his coffee cup fell to the floor.

he's a client, D said. (ye olde charity bookstore's D is a man, o shame—when i didn't know what to do i summoned a man from the basement.) D roused the fellow, offered him a gentle shoulder, and guided him outside. he just had his methadone, D said, those are the nods. the worst is when they get the nods right on the stairs.

i walked home through an alley between crosby and lafayette and pretended i hadn't meant to pass the memorial offerings outside david bowie's new york apartment. a girl played the last thirty seconds of "heroes" on her phone, and a tall man whispered the details of angie's divorce settlement to a friend at his side. everyone says hi.



i watched five minutes of the rose bowl halftime show.
i finished a crossword puzzle on the subway.
i ate a vegetarian sloppy joe.
i ran into the ocean in a skeleton suit and wool socks.
i ordered a mermaid pilsner while a cover band performed "the final countdown."
i finally saw the shining's man-bear-pig at a midnight screening (other versions i'd seen had edited him out?).
i drank the rest of my sister's holiday kombucha.
i put new sheets on the bed.