i found some songbird shit on our stump/table on the balcony this afternoon! this is a huge deal: we're up on the eighteenth floor, and we're lucky to see an occasional gull wheeling by on its way across the river, like, once a fortnight. pigeons like to roost and even nest on our neighbors' air conditioning units just a floor or two down, but not ours, never ours.* why they will not let us love them is beyond me. but: a pea-sized clump of healthy songbird shit (nice hue and consistency, buddy)! some little fella made it all the way to our place and took some time for reflection! it was, in all seriousness, thrilling—even when i spaced out and plunked my glass down on top of it, then carried it inside and to our coffee table. passerine traveler, i salute you.

i haven't been up to the bird hospital for—checking my volunteer login calendar—two months, and only twice this year. i was traveling in january and february and scrambling to file articles before and after each of those trips; i then got a tattoo at the end of february and felt i should take a week or two to myself before splashing it with bleach and, you know, songbird shit. i'd get messages from the volunteer coordinator (for the first time since i started working there!) saying that they had so very many interns that, for a couple of weeks, they didn't need any more hands on deck. then the city started taking coronavirus seriously.

as of last week, the word was that two volunteers could share the basement space with staffers at a time, and the hospital was eager for those volunteers (and the interns were long gone). i am not worried about what would/will happen to me, but i am very concerned about my many elderly neighbors, so i was trying to game out a way to commute a hundred blocks uptown without taking public transportation. a citibike halfway, then a couple of miles each way on foot? all of it on foot? i could do that, joe and i have walked the length of the island several times, but i'd have been tired-ish by the time i got to the upper west side, and it's both intensely physical and very delicate work. you can't do injections or tube-feed babies when you're wobbly. then we got a note from our building saying that several of our neighbors have tested positive, and that we should spend as little time as possible in the hallways and elevators. i'm already buying groceries for one of our friends downstairs, and i decided that i couldn't justify being a potential vector. i don't know how new city policies are going to apply to the hospital now that most of new york is shut down. i realize that worrying about baby birds at a time like this probably makes me a monster. it has been so long since i've been able to take care of them.

we are about as comfortable as two people can be in a pandemic: two adults who've been together for donkey's years, two dependents we outweigh quite handily that are satisfied with meat-paste and Warm Objects That Hold Still, one job with benefits that can't disappear and another that is flexible enough to carry on plausibly for now. three of our parents seem to be behaving sensibly, and the other seems at least sort of susceptible to peer pressure from me, my sisters, and my stepsister. i am keenly aware of the privilege dripping from every bit of that.

i still think, every now and again, about the website reviewer who called me trite and insular back in 2001(-2?) when my posts about 9/11 didn't acknowledge world events to her satisfaction. nothing about what i do here has ever been a particularly snappy rejoinder to that; all four of you know that this is something else.

our friend TJ is/was the house DJ for the red sox, the pats, and the bruins, jobs he began to cobble together after years of writing the sox to say "here i am!" in what i imagine was a very frank black voice. in this new world of ours, he's started streaming uncertain times, a radio show he started last week and is now helming from 10-noon(ish) ET so far on weekdays. he has always been very gracious about my distant exhortations to play bowie at fenway, and he played "peace, love and understanding" after we talked about it online a few days ago, and i cried. have we talked about competence porn here? TJ's show is competence porn.

here's a song for les and / here's a song for les and ray.

*neighbors two floors down have gone so far as to hang a plastic owl from their kitchen window to try to keep the pigeons away. i don't know if it's working, but it's an utterly delightful silhouette to see when i look out and down from our kitchen window.


Lisa said...

You couldn't be a monster if you tried.

The virus has me awake at midnight about to put the first bread I've ever tried to make in my life into an oven.

So far past both my bedtime and my competency and clearly a coping mechanism. Sleep tight.

lauren said...

there is no snow in hollywood, &c. oh lisa we love you how is the bread??