conversations with doctor omnibus {love is like a bottle of gin}

in googling around for my psychiatrist's number—i see him twice a year and seem unable to keep his contact information handy—i found notes from other patients on his germophobia, stances on smoking and falling in love (both childish), curtness, and possible sociopathy. they endeared him to me, to be honest; we've been scowling at each other for something like eight years now. there's history.

LMO: remember the time you told me to volunteer at a hospital? i actually did—i mean, i volunteer at a hospital. a bird hospital.
doc: birds? birds are fantastic!
LMO: i know!

doc: people worry too much about their moods. it's like alcohol, you figure out the correct dose.

doc: moods are like skin. most people's are not perfect. it's an organ.

doc: moods are like shoes. they don't matter.

LMO: [halfway out the door] are your dogs...related to each other?
doc: i don't know. [pause] i give them all...mafia names. tony and dominic and vinnie. well, vinnie died.
LMO: i'm so sorry. [pause] i had a cat called charles bronson.
doc: there you go!


at ye olde charity bookstore cafe, V and i discussed the woman who came in last week and wanted to haggle down the prices of the two mildly shopworn donated paperbacks she wanted to purchase (which she did, by $1.50, after i conferred with an actual employee). she turned to her friend, who had just joined her at the counter, and smiled: "every little bit helps." she circulated in the store for a few more minutes and came back to ask what the building had been before we turned it into a bookstore. i didn't know; none of the other volunteers or the staffer with us did, either. "you should know that," she hissed. "that and books are what people want." V hadn't known about the haggling until this afternoon. "hausverbot! she is banned from entering this place."

when V left to rearrange a display i got to talking with P, an artist, as he replaced rare books in the glass cases near the front door. i made a somewhat disparaging comment about jeff koons and he mentioned that they shared an ex; "cicciolina, actually." he had been involved with her after koons was. "are you telling me you have koons cooties?" "yeah, i guess so." i asked about made in heaven; he said it was absolutely not weird that he'd seen it before they met. "it's just like anything someone did before you were dating them." i mean, visual artists, but i disagreed. "if jeff koons can make a living painting, why can't you?" she used to say to him. that sounded so cold to me that i misinterpreted P at first and thought he meant a living painting, like pageant of the masters (do you, southern california). no, a living painting, and P quoted her to koons when they met years later. they had a good laugh.


the dirty dozen {twelve of my favorite passages from martin millar's lonely werewolf girl}

01 "The flat remained exactly as the Guild provided it. He didn't rearrange the furniture, buy himself a new set of sheets, or hang a calendar on the wall. Such things were inconsequential to him. The only thing he cared about was hunting werewolves."

02 "It was the room she used for her private conferences and in homage to this there was a painting on the wall by Velasquez of two ambassadors. This was one of the finest pictures by Velasquez in private hands, and did not appear in any of the standard lists of the painter's works."*

03 "'Doesn't Apthalia the Grim spend her time waiting on quiet roads, trying to ambush lonely travellers?' asked Thrix.
'Not so much now,' replied Malveria. 'These days she's more interested in fashion. And since she had her warts removed and her nose done, and started buying her clothes from Dior, rather than simply robbing the corpses of her victims, she is not so bad looking, I admit.'"

04 "The Enchantress noticed Dominil's T-shirt under her open coat.
'What's the writing?'
'The band's set list.'
Thrix read it with interest.
'Stupid Werewolf Bitch? Evil White-Haired Slut?' She laughed. 'They wrote two songs about you.'
'Three,' said Dominil. 'They encore with Vile Werewolf Whore.'

05 "'You seem uncomfortable,' said Dominil. 'Is there some problem with the sorcery?'
'None at all,' replied Thrix. 'I'm uncomfortable because I'm in a bar in Camden with a lot of nineteen year old boys gawking at me.'"

06 "'This daughter will now attempt to see what label is on the clothes when the Princess disports her unpleasant figure at the Empress Asaratanti's party celebrating the one thousandth anniversary of her victory over the ice dwarves from the north.'"

07 "'I would so much like to kill that Princess. Do you know she had the effrontery to insinuate that I was generously proportioned? She accused me of hiding my excess weight! Which is absurd. Of course it can be done—I believe her mother the Empress Asaratanti has long concealed several hundred pounds of ugly fat in another dimension—but such tactics are not necessary for the extremely slim Queen Malveria. Last year my devotees added the title Slenderest of Queens to my many existing names, quite unbidden by myself.'"

08 "'Where's the Vermeer?'
'I lent it to the National Gallery.'
Markus was surprised.
'Just because I'm Mistress of the Werewolves doesn't mean I have no sense of duty to the wider public. It's the modern world dear, we all have to make a contribution.'"

09 "Moonglow was such a kind soul. It was one of the things Daniel liked about her. That and her pretty face, her long black hair and the really attractive nose stud."

10 "Kalix wrote a new entry in her journal. The Runaways are the Queens of Noise. Today I killed two hunters. Or yesterday."

11 "'Well, Malveria, these are clearly intended as dresswear only. You can't expect a fashion item to stand up to ritual sacrifice on the volcano. I've told you before about choosing the right footwear for the right occasion.'"

12 "Everyone of importance would be there, even the ladies from the court of the iron elementals, and they hardly ever went out to social events."

imaginary reading group discussion questions

01 if you were supernatural, would you share your secret masterpieces with the mortal public?
02 donald trump, hillary clinton, and bernie sanders: who's the vampire, who's the cyborg, and who's the alien?
03 what would you conceal in another dimension?
04 there are apparently two sequels to this scottish werewolf novel. should i read them?
05 on non-werewolf novels, how unlike graham greene's other stuff is travels with my aunt?

*secret masterpieces are one of my favorite supernatural fiction subthemes. our friend lesley has a salvador dalĂ­ portrait of her grandmother hanging in her hallway, which is why it's so easy to play "vampire, cyborg, or alien?" with her.


a favorite story from obit, vanessa gould's glorious documentary on the new york times's obituary team (which premiered at tribeca on sunday the 17th): like many news organizations, the times maintains an archive of advance obituaries for noteworthy men and women. as margalit fox, a member of the team, put it a few years ago, "As a general rule, when lives are long enough, accomplished enough and complex enough that we would just as soon not get caught short writing them on deadline, advances are assigned."). it's an offshoot of 'the morgue,' the times's almost unfathomably large collection of biographical data related to prospective obit subjects (it's composed almost entirely of yellowing clippings from, as i recall, 28 daily sources; to digitize the morgue [which lives in a flood-prone basement in midtown; even moving it to the times's new building is prohibitively expensive] would cost an army of flesh-and-blood scanners years of their lives). "If an advance has gone according to plan," fox says, "it has been researched, written, fact-checked, filed, edited and copy-edited, laid out on a page and sometimes even supplied with accompanying videos for online viewing, all well ahead of the game."

elinor smith, the 'flying flapper of freeport'—in 1928, she became the youngest licensed pilot in the world (at age 16; orville wright signed her license)—died at a nursing home in palo alto in march of 2010. a times staffer in the morgue shuffled through the card catalog that would tell him where to find the folder of her life's news clippings and discovered a red stamp indicating that an advance obituary had been filed for her—in the early '30s, when she was still a teenager, as what she did was considered so dangerous that she was expected to meet an exceedingly untimely end. (when elinor was 17, someone dared her to fly under all four bridges on the east river; according to the cradle of aviation museum on long island, she's still the only person ever to have done it.) elinor smith outlived her obituary by seven decades! (as you would imagine, she outlived her obituarist as well; as one of the times staffers mentioned in obit, one of the most contemporary news sources in the world regularly publishes articles about dead people written by other dead people.) she quit flying in her late twenties to focus on her family but took back to the air after her husband's death in 1959; in 2000, when she was 88, she became the oldest pilot to complete a simulated space shuttle landing (with an all-female crew). elinor motherfucking smith, ladies and gentlemen. may we all outlive our obituarists.