when you look down at the invalid pigeon curled against your chest and realize her white head is pink because you kissed it.


i roped joe into a facebook meme the other night.

WITHOUT prompting, ask your significant other these questions and write EXACTLY what they say.

1: What is something I always say?
2: Circa 2012, "lovely!"

1: What makes me happy?
2: Candy, sleeping.

1: What makes me cry?
2: Tigers.

1: How tall am I?
2: Five seven.

1: What's my favorite thing to do?
2: Candy, sleeping.

1: What do I do when you're not around?
2: Candy, sleeping.

1: If I become famous, what will it be for?
2: The Great American Novel.

1: What makes you proud of me?
2: That you struck out on your own, and are doing your own thing, and are putting yourself out there.

1: What is my favorite food?
2: Candy, sleeping. No, lentils.

1: What is my favorite restaurant?
2: Mission Chinese, interestingly, because you will not get Chinese food anywhere else.

1: What is my favorite place to visit?
2: Iceland.

1: If I could go anywhere, where would it be?
2: Antarctica.

1: How do I annoy you?
2: Questions.

1: What is my favorite movie?
2: Labyrinth.

1: Who is my celebrity crush?
2: I don't know. Just put who it is.

1: You get a phone call that I am in trouble, who am I with?
2: Your mother.


so we were in norway and iceland for two weeks. it was stupendous, even though i now seem unable to sleep past nine! (on a sunday. so gross.) many, many things fell by the wayside before we left, as i was determined to finish and file my early-november work before we left two thursdays ago (i failed at that, too: i filed an essay from oslo and three pieces from reykjavík). i haven't been to see ben at the wild bird fund since early october, which is the longest i've gone without seeing him since we went on our cross-country road trip in the summer of 2015. as when we were in milan and berlin at this time last year, i took my coffee in a mountain-print onesie each morning as i read about the shitty things americans do to each other. speaking of, we'll be at our place for thanksgiving again this year: our local family will be dining with my stepbrother, who works for donald trump in the white house (i doubt i'll ever see him again; i can't imagine being interested in seeing him again). this is more than fine with me—we didn't pursue other plans this year, as i like having a quiet night alone with joe, and we're bringing leftovers to our friends' place in brooklyn for a friday-afternoon gathering.

birds and bookstores to tend, a thanksgiving lasagna to assemble, the second half of the month's assignments to address before plunging into the hyperspace of the late-holiday season. hair to purple. a dragon to sew up for my little niece (don't tell her). part of me wishes we could have seen the northern lights one more time, but i am glad to have swathes of cat shimmering around my head once more. you are my horrora borealis, steve.


one of the wildlife hospital staffers asked me if i'd been using my name tag to sign in at their new tablet kiosk in the basement treatment room. i haven't, i said, though that would give them a formal record of my tardiness, and that would be something. "well i guess since you're at the highest level of training already, your hours don't really matter. although maybe you should wear the tag in case new people don't know what you...are?" "in case they can't see the waves of power rolling out from my body?" "...yes?"


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

Suspicious person in a vehicle. 12:08 p.m. The caller reported an elderly man in a Toyota Camry, driving slowly in the neighborhood and possibly casing.
Disturbance. 8:17 a.m. The caller reported two male transients dumpster diving.
Vandalism report. 6:37 p.m. Caller reported someone keyed her car.
Keep the peace. 2:00 p.m. Caller said her neighbor below was yelling at her when she was walking.
Suspicious person/circumstances. 12:40 p.m. The caller reported two men walking inside and out of the business without buying anything.
Disturbance. 10:01 p.m. The caller reported kids using laser pointers.
Citizen assist. 8:47 a.m. The caller said a house owner hired the caller and other workers and is denying them any bathroom breaks.
Disturbance. 12:58 p.m. The caller reported a man asking for his money back after he ate a bad sandwich. The caller said the man told her, he was going to get his mom and come back to kill her.
Citizen assist. 10:56 p.m. Caller said she has an emergency with her TV.
Assist outside agency. 2:03 p.m. The caller reported a large bee hive with swarming bees on a city tree.
Disturbance. 1:58 p.m. The caller said a woman pushed him and told him to get out.
Suspicious person/circumstances. 5:20 p.m. The caller reported a man sitting on the corner and talking on a phone. The caller didn’t like him in the neighborhood.

*previous installment here.


What we build not only reflects but determines who we are and who we'll be. 'A city is an attempt at a kind of collective immortality,' wrote Marshall Berman in an essay on urban ruin; 'we die, but we hope our city's forms and structures will live on'. The opposite is true in the suburbs. They have no history and don't think about the future; very little there is built to last. Posterity is irrelevant to a civilisation living in an ongoing, never-ending present, with as much care for the future or sense of the past as a child. In his classic 1961 study The City in History, Lewis Mumford describes the naivety of the suburbs, which sustain in their inhabitants 'a childish view of the world', a false impression of security, if not an outright political apathy. Terrible things happen elsewhere, but never here, not now, not to us. It's the most natural paternal instinct to want to give your children a better childhood than your own; but the generation of city dwellers who invented the suburbs blew past 'better' in their pursuit of an impossible social isolation. It is as if they were trying to give not only their children but themselves the childhood they never had. The suburbs present the world to their children as if padded in felt, as if life were something gradually accumulated through commercial transaction, store by store. Often American literature and films about the suburbs feature children and adults alike losing their innocence, surprised, unprepared, for how terrible life can be: The Virgin Suicides, American Beauty, Revolutionary Road, Weeds — all of these ask not only 'is this all there is?' but 'is there really that, too?'

(lauren elkin, from flâneuse: women walk the city in paris, new york, tokyo, venice, and london)
elkin's take on the suburbs (she grew up on long island) is a savage one, but it tracks with what i remember and how i talk about orange county in the '80s and '90s (and even how i talk about going to college in a suburb*): it was a very conservative and homogeneous place to be, i would never want to live there again, but it was a safe place to grow up, and i know that my parents chose our unremarkable** stucco house in our unremarkable neighborhood because it meant that my sisters and i could eventually go to the very good, exceptional, local public high school. i also felt like a freak until i got to college, and i think sometimes about what i would do now with all the hours i spent in, say, church-related youth groups because i wanted friends.

*i didn't have a car or even a bike in college, incidentally; my bikes were stolen so quickly that i decided the universe wanted me to be a pedestrian. i started taking long late-night walks around campus when i was a freshman and crawled all over the school for four years, but those nights were nothing like the ones i'd later spend in san francisco and new york. those are other stories, though.

**architecturally speaking, that is. the roof was fantastic for climbing and there were so many places for lizards to hide.


the dirty dozen {twelve things i learned in tonight's squirrel-care class}*

01 "talking to them is OK, because they will eventually turn on you."
02 squirrels born in the fall aren't as healthy as squirrels born in the spring.
03 in the last stage of weaning, squirrels eat pumpkin mash (lab block dust, baby cereal, and puréed pumpkin—NOT PUMPKIN PIE FILLING).
04 "someone gave a squirrel pumpkin pie filling by accident once. he was really excited, but it didn't go well."
05 squirrels like to sleep in makeshift polarfleece hammocks.** "of course they drag all of their crap into their hammocks."
06 ADR in a veterinary chart = Ain't Doin' Right.
07 squirrels should not have KMR (kitten milk replacement), which has too much protein and will give them terrible diarrhea.
08 squirrels should have squirrel formula (fox valley), which is much better but can still make their hair fall out if you don't wipe their faces and arms after they nurse.
09 "is the squirrel nervous? try a burrito."
10 you can help a nursing squirrel that's aspirated milk blow its nose by covering its face with a tissue, putting your mouth to said tissue, and inhaling.
11 if maggots are crawling out of a squirrel's ears or eyes, you have to put it to sleep.
12 one turd is not enough.

*do not use these points to care for squirrels! call your friendly local wildlife rehabber.

**i knew that part.


And Autobiography is a lot of a bit much — nearly 500 pages, with tiny margins and no index. So instead of flipping around looking for "Boorer, Boz" or "busses, double-decker" or "Bowie, David, argument over fruit-salad buffet in 1992 with," you have to jump in. There are great moments everywhere, including that breakfast with Bowie. "David quietly tells me, 'You know, I've had so much sex and drugs I can't believe I'm still alive,' and I loudly tell him, 'You know, I've had so LITTLE sex and drugs I can't believe I'm still alive.'"

(rob sheffield, from "morrissey's autobiography: the dream is gone but the book is real")


at the end of a long night a few christmases ago, my baby sister told me that she and my brother-in-law were going to start trying to have a child. i told her in no uncertain terms that this was a terrible idea, for the earth with humans as its miserable stewards had a few decades left at best. it was a monstrous thing to say, and joe reminded me, as he always does, that i sound crazy when i talk like that. i apologized many times, though i haven't really forgiven myself for receiving their news that way.

erin, the friend who introduced me to the wild bird fund years ago, told me about her long island conservation and education group's offshore, overnight whalewatching trips—she'd be on the second one of the summer, and i'd have a chance to meet her in person—and i suddenly and desperately needed to go. i mucked around on the group's website for a while and then just called to ask about coming along. i got the society's president, artie, who'd been watching the comey hearing all afternoon, as i had. "it's nice...to be talking about whales right now," he said.

i packed up the sleeping bag i'd bought for my first ragnar last fall, wrapped an oversized plush peep in a pillow case, and filled a duffel bag with tank tops, pajamas(?), trail mix, candy. a bunch of sunscreen and prescription seasickness patches, per my stepfather's instructions. erin, as magical in person as she's been on the internets all these years, collected me from the platform at montauk and drove me to a grocery store, where i added a five-gallon jug of water, a couple of dutch rolls, vegetarian sushi(?), and a bunch of bananas* to my rations. we were to leave montauk at six to reach martha's vineyard by midnight, where we'd drop off a handful of commuters and pick up a few more watchers, then spend the night chugging out to the great south channel. our boat's hold was full of navy bunks, but it was traditional to drag one's mattress out to the deck, she said. it sounded like the rime of the ancient mariner to me, and i thought of the halloween in college when paul hung an albatross made of packing tape around his neck.

the perseid meteor shower was at its peak that first night, and spots on the top deck went fast—except for the raised ones, the big crates full of life preservers, so i flopped my dusty cot mattress down on one of those. it thrummed and rocked as the wind streamed over us, and i felt like an infant marsupial nestled against its mother. i was unconscious long before we reached martha's vineyard.

i woke up at dawn, soaked with dew, just as dolphins began to embroider the surface beside the boat. soon pelagic birds gathered on the water for bait fish, like truffle flies, and then—

joe and i went whalewatching in iceland a few years ago, at the end of the season when most of the humpbacks had migrated far from that part of the north atlantic. we saw a single juvenile, a straggler, at a distance, and our local guide's joy eclipsed any disappointment i might have felt at the ocean's stinginess. i was thoroughly unprepared for the great south channel, where the waters receded from the humpbacks' barnacled snouts, dozens of them, like fog rolling down a mountain range. a whale surfaced perpendicular to our boat with a great briny bellow, presented us with its ageless back, and dove beneath our feet. i sobbed.

i have been sprouting an avocado pit in a little sake cup on top of our cookbooks for the last several weeks. joe scoffs: we'll have avocados of our own in something like 12 years, he says. i once asked my sister what she would give up if forced to choose between avocados and the feeling of swimming in the ocean and being taken up by a wave just before it breaks. you're getting me where i live with this one, she replied. i would like for her son to have my avocados.

*"you brought bananas on this boat?" the captain said as we played cards in the galley. "seriously?" i did a bit of research when i got home: bananas bring the worst kind of luck on a fishing boat. no banana muffins, banana republic clothing, banana boat sunscreen.


we erupted from asheville yesterday morning, barreled west to franklin and invented a parking space in a wooded copse, and followed the dark side of the moon* to a local brewery that'd opened at nine. ("people were already lining up, so we figured, hell.") i maintained our table while joe talked a food truck into some quesadillas, and the older couple next to me turned around to say hello. they were silent partners at the brewery and spent half the year down in florida. i told them i volunteered at a wildlife rehab center. "one time a big pelican landed in our backyard and flopped over on his side. he looked terrible! i called the local folks and they said, 'oh, don't worry. he just ate too many fish and got tired, he'll get up on his own after a while.' and he did!"

*that segued into a lot of tom petty, which...fair play?


conversations with doctor omnibus {omnibus without borders}

there are at least three DO NOT TOUCH signs on the bookshelf in doc omnibus's shared reception area. the half-empty shelves against the back wall of his office are strewn with off-brand comic books about spiders and tsunami evacuation pamphlets. as of next year i'll have been seeing him for a decade.

doc: you'd have been a good lawyer.
LMO: [laughing] my dad used to say that.
doc: this is what i'm talking about!

doc: you're the parent.

doc: do you hate your kids sometimes, sure, but you don't tell them that.

doc: you decide what comes out of your mouth.

doc: you're too permeable.

doc: you need to decide what you want to do and do it regardless of how you feel about it.

doc: you're finally old enough.

doc: [rifling through papers] i can't find anything, this is your fault.
LMO: i know, i figured.

06.29.17ii {somewhere over alabama}

a food critic i met in orlando two years ago was headed back to florida after a week in the city just as joe and i made our way out to texas late this afternoon; he and his wife did their damndest to meet us for a drink before our respective departures until we realized we were not actually at the same airport. does one get credit for weathering the la guardia / JFK switcheroo if one doesn't actually miss one's flight? our flight is running at least two hours late and is so packed with inconsolable babies that those of us who aren't responsible for said babies actually laughed with something like delight when their cries of rage nearly harmonized.

i revisited the ob/gyn who talked me into an IUD instead of sterilization nearly a decade ago. her office told me they keep records for three years and box them up after five or so. i was a new patient again, essentially, and had to explain that we'd met before. this time she pushed vasectomy, as it's reversible; when men turn 40, she said, they go crazy for babies. she took my blood pressure—high, for the first time in my life—and noted that i should consider exercising to bring it down. i'd considered bringing my magazine essay about sterilizing childless women with me to our appointment, but concluded at the last minute that showing her an article which opened with a story about how terrible she herself was would compromise our working relationship. i stuffed her referrals in my bag and left.


a friend sent me a link to a job posting that mirrored my skill set so neatly it was almost a bit scary: an outlet wants a researcher-reporter-writer with crazy pet experience and solid veterinary and PR contacts to pen deep dives about the best products for beasts. it would have involved developing a peripheral relationship with amazon, though (fuck amazon*), and it was a full-time, in-house staff position. it turns out...that i don't actually want one of those? i mean, i reserve the right to revisit these feelings if the new yorker reaches out about a film-reviews-by-plastic-animals position, but i've gritted my teeth through two and a half years of Post-Office-Job Ghosthood and suspecting that editors who didn't respond to pitches within minutes hated my face, and i think i want these calluses. i love my hospital and my bookstore. i've actually started writing my book. i'm going on a crazy three-day whale-watching trip later this summer for it! (that will probably yield a health piece or two as well. i get so, so seasick.) i enjoyed knowing that i would impress these folks who want a researcher-reporter-writer—possibly i sent them a note to that effect—but this frankencareer means something to me. i think we belong together, at least until it starts killing my family and friends and leaves taunting notes for me all the way to the north pole.

*and fuck whole foods, i guess? truth be told, it's easy enough and probably more responsible for me to shop seasonally at farmers' markets and essex street marketand we'll have essex crossing in a year or two—but i will miss the comparative ease of filling a santa's-sack of groceries at one store on the way home from my weekly shifts at ye old charity bookstore. ah well. (fuck amazon.)


i met my second Freelance Produce Spirit at the grocery store today. (the first one, a regal elderly woman who materialized beside me at the whole foods at columbus circle a few years ago, joined me in observing the avocados and plucked one from the pyramid: "this one is for tomorrow," she said, and handed it to me. "this one," plucking another, "is for today.")

at the bowery whole foods this afternoon, an asian man with breezy long hair caught my eye as i contemplated a huge pile of wine-dark cherries: "this is a good price for them," he said as he transferred handfuls from one bag to another for no apparent reason. "but will they be sweet enough for me?" he popped one in his mouth and his brows shot up: "THEY ARE MAGNIFICENT!"


last night i dreamed that i finally gave in to my adulthood-long urge to shave my head. "it looks better than i thought it would," joe said, "but your skin is so thin. now everyone knows your blood is green." when a woman shaves her head she ends up with a little port at the base of her neck through which all her green blood might spill, so she has to ask her partner to check her stopper each night before she turns in. so many things i hadn't considered.

i'm reading kristin hersh's rat girl, a memoir adapted from journal entries between 1985 and 1986, when she was eighteen and throwing muses performed at bars around rhode island. the bouncers never remembered her and her bandmates between sound check and their shows (which none of them looked old enough to attend; they weren't, not legally), so they had to pay their way into their own gigs.
Tea and I are stepsisters—we introduced my mother to her father and they got married, of all things—but even though there's no blood between us, we look very much alike: puny little dishwater blonds. When people ask if we're twins, she tells them we're "step-twins" and they always nod, like they know what she's talking about. Tea also says this about us: "It's good that we're ugly—it makes us funny." Of course, we think ugly is beautiful.


I pick up every snake I see. Every single one, and I see a lot of snakes because I look for them. Now that spring's here, they're everywhere. Snakes're perfect. What a handle they've got on locomotion...they swim, climb trees, glide across rocks and sand, through grass and leaf litter. I can only do a couple of these terrains comfortably and I'm fairly sporty. Snakes can eat things that weigh more than they do, they come in all sizes and colors and they can adjust their temperature just by hanging out in the right places—they soak up weather and wear it. Snakes win; the rest of us should quit.
i'd use adjectives for rat girl but i think you can probably tell how i feel about it.


it's a sultry year at the film festival; i realized i didn't have time to go home and nap before i met joe at an evening screening, so i decided that if a thrift store would sell me a shirt to replace the rain-sodden crew tee i've worn for the last week, by god, i would wear it. the clear winner was an old, soft ralph lauren plaid from the housing works down on 17th street, and i buttoned it up to my neck in a bar's bathroom. "no, no," joe said. "you look like a vato."


the dirty dozen {twelve things i cherished at our all-night trail-racing extravaganza in kentucky}

what's so goddamn essential to a camping-and-running trip that it's worth shoving into a suitcase and hauling all the way to la guardia, then to an airport hotel, then to a field outside fort knox? well. (as always, none of these links generate anything other than immaterial awesomeness.)

01 tzumi pocketjuice portable chargers. i bought one of these for my first ragnar in the fall and picked up two more before we headed out to kentucky this year, and what a boss call that was on my part. they're cheap ($15-$20), small, and powerful: each one will recharge a smartphone three times.

02 coleman flatwoods II 6-person dome tent. this bad boy packed down to 8.5"x8.5"x24", which was perfect for our larger suitcase (which also fit a sleeping bag, one of our inflatable pads, and a couple of my shrink-wrapped running outfits), and it rang in at under $100, which was a relief after the tents i priced at REI (which were light and sleek but scorchingly expensive). i would by no means attempt to squish six people into a tent of this size (the footprint is 10'x10'), but it housed joe, my sister, me, and our suitcases quite handily. bonus points for the front awning. my friend rachel, an accomplished car camper, suggested we spring for a big tent; as in all things, she was right.

03 nite ize radiant 400 led lantern. i'm still a little traumatized by the spectacular mess i made of our previous lantern by neglecting to take the batteries out after we loaded it up for superstorm irene several years ago; when i pulled it out for superstorm sandy a few years later, they had foamed up like rabid beasts and killed their host. this model was smaller and a bit less expensive than its predecessor, but it was bright, and our main source of light on the communal tarp between our tents. led light isn't always the sexiest light, but when you're digging around for a headlamp and/or a can of cider, it's awfully handy. speaking of sexy lights,

04 eno twilights led string lights. i valued these at our first ragnar because stringing them between our tents kept people from wandering through our campsite en route to the port-o-lets; i also valued them at this one, especially the purple set my friend melissa gave me when we got to kentucky, because they're damn sexy (and they made it easier to find everyone after night runs). i wanted to wrap a string of these around my body.

05 adidas adilette slides. i did not bring a pair of proper recovery sandals last time around—hell, i didn't bring a pair of flip flops last time around—and was forced to stay in my muddy running shoes for several extra hours after the race ended. i told myself that if i could find an only mildly offensive pair for sale in the gear tent, i could have them; reader, i could not. this time i acquired a pair of black-on-grey slides via ebay and was happy as a clam (joe, who requested and got a pair of the adissage slides, was not as comfortable; make sure you're really into that massage-nub footbed before you commit to it). i have only anecdotal evidence that loud, patterned pairs are more effective than the striped ones, but this evidence is compelling.

06 white pumpkin. a cornell horticulturist maintains that a healthy pumpkin picked from a disease-controlled field can last eight to 12 weeks; dottie in charlotte, in turn, told her gardenweb.com forum buddies back in october of '08 that she still had a white pumpkin purchased in '07. the one i acquired and brought to wawayanda lake was still going strong on a melamine plate in our foyer as i packed for kentucky, so i took it along, of course. after the race i kissed it goodbye and left it in the woods beyond the edge of our campsite; if a herd of feral pumpkins begins performing miracles across northern kentucky in a few months' time, you're welcome.

07 the believer, november/december 2007. when the believer and its cover art featuring 18 temporary tattoos (including a small bat with a POWER OF ATTORNEY motto and a portrait of ai weiwei in pigtails) turned up at ye olde charity bookstore, i knew it had to be mine (and my team's). ten-year-old temporary tattoos don't age nearly as gracefully as yearling white pumpkins do, and the gas can (BE MY CO-DEFENDANT) i applied to my neck looked rather like an unfortunate sun incident after a few hours, but it inspired me to apply one of the ragnar tattoos included in our welcome packet, and that was properly lurid. joe made me scrub it off at our airbnb on sunday. "you look like a gang member."

08 kossar's assorted rugelach. (see also: kossar's mini black and white cookies and babka.) kossar's is the oldest operating bialy bakery in the united states (since 1936), and it's been making grand street fatter since 1960. bialys don't travel especially well, but the aforementioned desserts just love the road; i pick them up en route to the airport, as should anyone who visits new york city, really.

09 ticla camp hero tarp/blanket. what sort of douchebag pays $50 or more for a stripey hipster tarp/blanket? this kind, though mine was part of the goodie bag from a fancy camping press event at the ace hotel a few years ago (yeah, yeah). ticla (whose "don't camp ugly" slogan moved me, i'll admit it) folded more than a year ago, but its pretty gear is worth stalking on ebay (i'm kind of tempted to pull the trigger on that link myself, truth be told). the tarp in question has been a solid teammate at picnics, the beach, and campsites, and it handles machine washing and drying like a pro. it also makes a great cape, obviously. blue plastic tarps are fine, but the camp hero is, well, you know.

10 REI evrgrn lowboy lantern. like the camp hero, the delightfully squishy evrgrn lowboy (its cover is made of silicone, and i make everyone at my campsite touch it) has gone the way of the giant banana; that said, i love you and i want you to know how important it is to cherish any evrgrn products and/or kawaii lanterns that might cross your path one day. maybe your local REI has a bunch of dead stock, who knows?

11 cidergeist bubbles rosé cider. a beer after a long run is nice. a cider after a long run is poetry.

12 s'well 17-oz insulated stainless steel bottle. who knew my trusty gym-hydration buddy could keep communal coffee hot for 12 hours? sarah kauss (who happens to head the fastest-growing woman-owned company in the country), that's who. triples as an excellent way to spirit pre-mixed aviations into central park for an evening of shakespeare.


the longest, darkest leg of my kentucky relay race started out quite nicely. i received the team bib from my college roommate at around two in the morning, barreled through a grove of red cedars and past an abandoned shack with a NIGHTMARE FOREST banner, and felt my lungs opening up to the blackness in a way they'd refused to do for my early-evening leg on the bluffs above the ohio river. then, around mile two or so, a second dinner: my left toe caught a root and i went down, hard, on my left hand and right knee (diminutive head lamp and nearly-forty-year-old eyes, you're not always a match for technical running in the wee hours). i assured the runner who passed me as i got back up—one of just four i met on the trail—that i was fine, and he said he'd done the same thing a mile back. i shook off my surprise, stuck to a trot for the next mile or so to give my heart a bit of time to quit galloping from the pain, and imagined my beloved owls at the bird hospital. my thoughts contract at that hour in manhattan, and they tighten even more when i'm watching and listening for unexpected company in NIGHTMARE FOREST. this race lacked the otherworldly rain that made the woods in new jersey feel like the upside down, but it condensed me in a way that was incredibly reassuring; there's a moonbather for every sunbather if you know where to look (it's no accident that "tonight, tonight" makes all the ragnar village playlists). i gave the bib to my sister at half past three, limped back to our campsite, and wet-wiped away the dirt and blood i was able to see by lanternlight. our coffee was frozen over in the morning. it was fucking great.


on thursday evening the missus and i will fly out to louisville with suitcases full of tents, sleeping bags, fairy lights, and synthetic clothing. i'm doing another two-day trail relay race in the middle of the night in the middle of nowhere, and this time i'm the team captain? this means that we are kind of brontë-themed (we call ourselves WUTHERING HURTS, and the shirts my friends melissa, ben, and i dreamed up for us have edward gorey-ish lettering and feature cathy and heathcliff wearing head lamps), that we are all staying together in a riverside airbnb loft after the race, that i'm bringing along temporary tattoos from an old issue of the believer, and that i'm going to try to figure out how to smuggle fireworks, again. i know everyone on this team very well, and i know we'll have a marvelous time (bonfires! sleep deprivation! running in the dark!), but i'm still incandescent with nerves. i dyed my hair lavender last night in an attempt to screw my head on straight and i think it helped. i also bought an iron-on set of bear teeth to award to the runner that reaches BEAST MODE most decisively.


the chuck essay is easily the scariest part of my book-to-be. telling stories about how i try to do right by other creatures is fine, i do that all the time, but in talking about him i'm just pan without his shadow. or am i his shadow? as a little scrap of night in a shelter in san francisco he had a himness i couldn't stop watching. i spent the thirteenish years of our lives together trying to learn what he'd always known, what he extended to me so gracefully and guilelessly.

every day, my heart, and more than ever.


we drove out to the south rim of the grand canyon in my in-laws' beleaguered old grey bmw. i had lobbied for us to take two cars—i like escape hatches—but i was overruled. the radio didn't work, and the seatbelt on the left in the back was busted. my mother-in-law took that seat on the way out to the canyon and tried to take it on the way back: "i can't let you sit in that seat, girl." joe's father has called him boy for as long as i can remember, but this was new. at a pub crawl in flagstaff with his aunts a few days earlier, you're part of the family NOW!

we steered my redheaded nephew away from the canyon rim as we made our way to a stately old hotel perched just where the transplanted california condors meet the sunset and the oldest of the ancient rocks (vishnu, brahma, and rama, thank you for having us). he is not a death-hamster—he is an aerial hunter like my cats, and we understood each other once i learned to throw things in his direction and present him with small treasures—but he is a young member of my pack and i want him to get taller in the absence of cliffs.


we are on the move again, this time to arizona, where my in-laws have gone unvisited for nearly two years. we keep trying to trick them into visiting us here in new york, but they run a bar by themselves and also i think get a bit itchy when they spend too much time in the city. so we will meet them in flagstaff, in a little airbnb where we will wear pajamas and watch television and no one will have cancer (take that, mother-in-law's cancer!). joe seems deeply invested in driving us to the grand canyon, which gives me pause; i have always suspected it would activate some dormant thanatotic desire in me and i'd become a helpless death-hamster. i have informed him of this.

i decided to wear red and a feisty pin and attend my weekly shift at ye old charity bookstore yesterday, since refraining from work that benefits some of the most vulnerable women in my city seemed like a questionable interpretation of what assorted activists were promoting. i was catcalled in my redness by someone to whom it was insignificant, and while i considered informing the caller of the position i represented i decided it was more expedient to hurry to the store, where about half of the female staff was missing and our manager, a man, wore an elizabeth warren shirt. i had to sneak out after an hour or so to interview a (female) doctor for a story i filed this morning. i made no purchases and ignored joe's request for me to pick up his laundry on the way home, and here we are and the world is like new, by which i mean scuffed in ways most of us tend to ignore.


is it clear that i would have pigeons if i could have pigeons? i would have pigeons if i could have pigeons. (our little cat's interest in the handful of pigeons he's seen on our balcony has made it clear that we cannot have pigeons.) they're dreadfully smart; they have an elegance that i have come to appreciate. they have a smell that i have come to appreciate; that dander is my dander, my people. when one has spent awhile at the bird fund one refers to the patients as people; i didn't notice my transition. i have started feeling important when i break for a sandwich after a couple of hours; i slip across the street in dirty scrubs and feel that i am in the shit. (i am not in the shit.)


Another obsession that alienates some new boyfriends is making jigsaw puzzles. I will sometimes stay up all night doing them, usually when I need to clear my head and get some inspiration about something I am working on. In a brand-new relationship where the man is looking for the screaming idol to hit the heights, this is often not tolerated. I love the big 1,000-to 3,000-piece puzzles that Ravensburger makes, and by the end of a project I will have a finished one. I always pick up a couple at Galeries Lafayette when I am in Paris, and in Piazza San Marco in Venice, or at Times Square in New York.


I would say to those women plumping up their lips and cheeks, Eat more pumpkins. Healthy skin begins from the inside out. The beauty products made from aloe vera—eat them, don't slap them on yourself. We've been eating that in Jamaica since we were kids. Red wine, honey. That keeps you going. Eating the pumpkin. The melon. Don't put all this shit on your face, eat it.


GRACE's dressing rooms shall be equipped with:

Dressing Room 1:

6 Bottles of Louis Roederer Cristal Champagne
3 Bottles of French Vintage red wine (e.g. St Emilion, Medoc, Bordeaux)
3 Bottles of French Vintage white wine (e.g. Sancerre, Pouilly Fuisse)
2 Dozen Findeclare or Colchester Oysters on ice (unopened)—(Grace does her own shucking.)
2 Sashimi and Sushi platters for 8 people
6 Fresh lemons
1 Bottle of Tabasco sauce
1 Fresh fruit platter for 8 people
6 Bottles of Coca Cola
12 Bottles of still and sparkling water
12 Bottles of fresh fruit juices
Wine glasses, champagne flutes, tumblers (all glass, no plastic)
Cutlery and sharp knife
1 Oyster knife
1 Make up mirror (no neon strip lighting, only opaque white bulbs)
Fresh towels, clothes hangers, clothes rail
3-4 Bunches of flowers—prefer lilys and orchids
Sofa and arm chairs

(grace jones as told to paul morley, i'll never write my memoirs)


sean spicer and i seem to be active around the same time; i've angry-jogged at at least three of his farcical speeches this winter. or nine of them, maybe, if you account for the fact that my building's exercise room tends to blare fox news, cnn, and msnbc at the same time. such a barrage of captions! we will not watch the president address congress tonight. sometimes i feel like my attention is the only thing i can deny him that he actually values.

the dirty dozen {twelve passages from francine raymond's keeping a few ducks in your garden (2002)}

01 We seem to be imprinted in the local wild duck population's consciousness as an easy lay.
02 Next, consult your neighbours to see if they'll help with your flock while you're on holiday and are prepared to put up with the odd quack.
03 If you live in a really foxy area it's not worth the heartbreak—or the expense.
04 They seem happy, even in the most appalling conditions, but please give them as much water as possible, they love to wallow—and don't overcrowd.
05 The Domestic Fowl Trust supplies a mail order duck pond and will send out an excellent catalogue (see Directory). You could use a child's paddling pool with rigid sides as an extra temporary pond for big ducklings with a ramp to get in and out, but not an inflatable—they have quite sharp claws.*
06 Only ducks quack, drakes have a basso rasping croak.
07 Don't give them mash, because ducks turn everything into mash.
08 My army also love barley (available in mixed corn), boiled rice, brown bread** soaked in water, pasta, sweetcorn kernels, peanuts, and old cheese.
09 Ducklings grow at a spectacular rate, much faster than chicks and a hen foster mum will be horrified at the early independence and aquatic proclivities of her charges.
10 I have raised abandoned ducklings with success. I'm not sure I should recommend it, but pairs do well. Keep them in a box, warm in an old sweater under an anglepoise lamp.
11 Nowadays sadly, I harden my heart even though there is probably nothing more appealing than a tiny duckling—I'm afraid it's just too time consuming. I always had something down my jumper and found myself turning down social engagements because of my charges.
12 You can catch them in their house at night, but if you need them immediately use an angler's fish-landing net. I've had occasional success with a large bamboo cloche, but have been considered a murderer by the entire flock for at least a fortnight afterwards. Move slowly among your ducks, preferably wearing the same clothes. I've been greeted with complete horror, just because I was wearing a hat—and I thought it suited me.


**my college roommates inform me that i once sat straight up in bed, unseeing, and yelled LET ME TELL YOU, HERKING A BROWN BREAD SANDWICH IS HIGHLY OVERRATED!


winter felt long gone by the time we got home from visiting our friends in the dominican republic saturday night, even though we were both still atremble with norovirus-related chills (valentine's day, you never cease to amaze). no sign of the dirty snow we passed on the way to the airport a week ago, and i walked across the williamsburg bridge yesterday afternoon in a tee shirt. (my rodhäm tee shirt, to be precise.) today i'll be filing a piece, invoicing for january at long last, trying to coax a march schedule out of one of my assigning editors. booking flights to visit joe's parents in arizona, maybe. handing off a half-marathon joe handed off to me. probably everyone feels they aren't doing enough, that the year hasn't actually begun, that maybe sadness all the time is just a thing now.

we watched the oscar-nominated live action shorts last night. if you'd like to feel better about the world, sing (hungary) and timecode (spain) are both helpful. if you need a reminder to stay angry, there's ennemis intérieurs (france).


1: your hair is so dark!
2: i know, i decided to let it go.
1: it looks great!
2: i was going kind of lori petty, you know?
1: orange is the new black lori petty would be no good. tank girl lori petty would be pretty great, though.
2: a league of their own lori petty did it all.


it turned out that michael w. fox's latest "animal doctor" column in the washington post's home and garden section was the perfect thing to read as i drank my coffee before the women's march in DC. readers wrote in about their dogs.
Dear Dr. Fox:
I was very surprised to see your mention in a recent column of fragrant scent spots on dogs.
I have a 5-year-old miniature black-and-tan dachshund, and several years ago, my kids and I discovered a spot on her that we later came to describe as her "sweet spot." It is on her breastbone, and I can only describe it as a very subtle flowery smell, but I can't put a flower name to it.

Dear Dr. Fox:
We rescued a blue brindle greyhound. She smelled like baby powder until the day she passed. There didn't seem to be any particular area on her body from which the smell emanated, but we loved to stick our noses in her soft, silky fur and breathe in her scent. Of course, the noseful of hair was a drawback. Subsequent greyhounds have been scentless.


Dear Dr. Fox:
I currently have a shelter-adopted mutt mother dog, Sunnie, and her son, Danny, who smells like brown sugar. He is now 7, and the smell is a bit fainter, but it is still there, mainly along his neck and also a bit on his chest.
No matter how long we go between baths, he never smells doggy. His mama smells feral. Not doggy—feral. She has a faint musky odor; your nose has to be in her fur to notice it, but it's there. Too long between baths, and she will feel a bit oily. And, yes, they do have popcorn-smelling feet, too. My 12th birthday gift (oh so many decades ago) was Sandy, a basenji, and her stomach smelled like rosewater and her feet like popcorn.


per our cross-country instructions to one another, joe packed my thrifted balenciaga for my grandmother's funeral and i bought him two pairs of extra-soft power rangers boxer shorts.