joe came back on monday after a week in oregon, where his father had a 'moderate to serious stroke' while on an RV trip with my mother-in-law, sister-in-law, and nephew. though he is the evel knievel of the circulatory system (he had emergency open-heart surgery this past fall; i think maybe when the family made him sell his motorcycle a few years ago he just became his own motorcycle), joe the elder has more lives than several cats, and he seems to be recovering well. we are grateful that he was away from home when it happened, as home is rural arizona, medically questionable at the best of times and the tail end of a bosch triptych at the moment. we would like them to trade their RV for a beaver state rental house, but you try herding someone who has more lives than several cats. i was extremely upset about the idea of joe flying west and home—we got news that we had neither coronavirus nor coronavirus antibodies the day he left—but flying to see one's family and giving them advice they will ignore is our generation's love language in 2020. i have made my peace, such as it is, with this.

i spent monday of my week alone pulling my first professional all-nighter, a filthy evening that peaked when i snuck outside for a walk on the promenade at about nine and cratered for the first time a few hours later when i found that one of my huge rubber cockroaches had fallen out of the closet and into the hall and it made obscene gestures at me when i bent to pick it up. i skittered to the kitchen and grabbed a pint glass to capture it, and when i got back it was gone; i then made my peace with lifestyle-writing-induced hallucinations. i found it a few feet away 15 minutes later, caught it, and chucked it off the balcony, which feels ok, given the reports of the creepy AI guy we knew in college whose experiments determined that roaches can handle pressure that's more than 900 times their body weight. also all american cockroaches can fly, though they tend to do so in humid climates? we're well into the miso soup phase of summering in new york, so.


the lower east side has been going Full Gandalf for the past month and a half; i don't know what the big-ass fireworks are called, they were illegal in california when i was a kid and i never worked up the nerve to buy the bunker busters when opportunities presented themselves over the past few years. i love fireworks and my personal sleep is so permanently fractured that i can't wish the pyros ill on my own behalf, but i feel for small animals, small humans, and their new parents, oh god. victoria, i love you.

i reached out to the social worker who introduced me to the families i've been shopping for a week ago and told her i needed to phase myself out; my work load was increasing, i said, and if new york was maybe opening up a bit i needed to let them go. i didn't want them to panic—i told them i could shop for another month while they figured things out—but oh, i have needed to move on from this cycle. i was starting to understand that my families had other help: G would talk about things her daughter had seen at our local grocery store, and i realized that neither G nor F asked me for paper goods, and that F never asked me for meat, though it seemed clear that she and her husband weren't vegetarians. i feel strongly—have i said this before?— that radical generosity is important; i can't and shouldn't know what my families do with what i've been bringing them, or why they need it. i was also falling apart, and those hints that the time and risk i offered weren't as crucial as i thought they were had been making me feel like shit.

i shopped for F and her husband for the last time this past thursday, and her list was smaller than usual. i rang her doorbell when i dropped off her groceries because i wanted to say goodbye, but she didn't answer; i set her bags down next to a couple of boxes of shelf-stable food from the city of new york(?) and went home. she texted me later to offer thanks and say that she's going out for doctors' appointments next week.

G absolutely did ask me for meat, all the time: she's so, so russian, and i bought her herring, chicken, and salmon for months. she gave me her credit card and her CVS keytag ages ago, so i put them both in a card for her when i made my final visit this week. when i rang her doorbell her cat squirted out the door, and i offered to grab her. "oh, no, she won't let you pick her up," G said. "she is waiting for a treat." G's cat's name is lola, and lola absolutely doesn't come back into her apartment without a treat. G and i stood in the hallway as lola was bribed to go home; she sauntered down the hall, just as steve does, and she polished G's ankles.