I have become a global trendsetter/lifestyle guru/influencer!

[CONTENT NOTE: anti-LBGTQi bigotry and harassment; language most foul.]

You know, I really hate to toot my own horn, people. But it remains a simple fact that I was housebound, taking paranoia-level precautions against infection risk, gorging myself on Netflix, hoarding unconscionable amounts of toilet paper, following the news and shitting myself* long before damn near everyone** on the planet recently decided to live exactly as I do!

You might think that by now, I’d have some timely wisdom to impart to you, hard won over these past few years while I’ve been consigned to countless stretches of involuntary isolation. Maybe I’d be servin’ up some pithy, practical tips-’n-tricks to help you navigate these perilous, life-changing, life-threatening times within the context of a “healthcare system” deliberately designed to generate wealth, in direct opposition to health.

Alas, nope. I got nuthin’. Except:

WELCOME TO MY WORLD, EVERYONE.

Also: good luck with that.__________

*What?! No! I am not going to admit publicly on my blog to literally shitting myself after my (second) ileostomy reversal! I used that phrase only figuratively…yep.

**Oh, I am exquisitely aware that not “everyone” is following my groundbreaking life choices. Just look at these @$$holes popping up today in my morning news scan:

“People filled bars like one in Appleton, Wis., on Wednesday night after the state’s Supreme Court struck down the governor’s stay-at-home restrictions.” (William Glasheen/Post-Crescent/AP)

And by “people,” I think it’s fair to say that The Washington Post editors mean “white dudes” because of course they do. (And because of course they are.)

But there are @$$holes a lot closer to home, too. Take this @$$hole for instance, as seen through my fire escape:

“@$$hole on Hudson Street, 5.13.20”
©Iris Vander Pluym

Now you may have heard that every night at 7pm New Yorkers collectively gather at their windows to make an enormous racket, banging pots and whooping it up, just like when it’s midnight on New Years but waaaaay too cold to leave the apartment. In fact you may have actually heard the noise yourself, because that shit is motherfucking loud. The cacophonous chaos is my beloved city’s daily ritual in appreciation of nurses, doctors, first responders and essential workers of all kinds. No one else here may know what day it is, but we sure as shit know what time it is.

Apparently so does the @$$hole. (And his @$$hole friends, too, who stood on the near corner out of range of my shot). Right on cue at 7 last night, the Maskless Minion of Mindless Misery began waving around his “TRUMP 2020 – KEEP AMERICA GREAT” sign 40 feet from my window.

As the raucous din died down, thence began his spittle-flecked shouting of this message in every direction for all to hear, whilst shoving his sign at the faces of passing people and at the windows of passing vehicles. My neighbors were shouting back things like “Go home!” and “You don’t belong here!” This last, of course, is not only a reference to the infamously liberal borough of Manhattan as a whole, but to the West Village in particular – you know: home of the 1969 Stonewall uprising and the world’s undisputed epicenter of LGBTQi culture and civil rights activism before AIDS decimated the local population and then a monsoon of straight white rich yuppies and super-rich absentee “residents” flooded the neighborhood and drove real estate prices right through the fucking stratosphere.

But this being New York and all, the neighborhood still stubbornly maintains its gritty grip on queerness, which is precisely why the @$$hole brigade was here in the first place – and not pulling this shit in…oh, say, Brownsville. If this were not plainly obvious already, it became crystal clear once their feckless leader began taunting my neighbors with “SISSY BOYS!!!” and “LOSER SOY BOYS, ALL Y’ALL!!!” and “YEAH I’M NOT LIVING HERE WHERE THE SOY BOYS LIVE, LITTLE GIRL!!! LITTLE GIRLY MEN!!! NEIGHBORHOOD FULL OF GIRLY-GIRLS!!!” (I do apologize to readers, but the man was speaking entirely in all caps and with multiple, non-ironic exclamation points.)

The rhetorical heat had risen, though not nearly to the high voltage I prefer when I fuck with conservatives. That’s when I decided to contribute my $0.02 to the verbal volleys and began shouting “Run him over!” at the passing cars and buses, and whining loudly with bitter disappointment as they missed him. Up until this point during his one-man troll show he seemed to be enjoying the back-and-forth jabbing and jeering, but at that he shut up for a moment, lowered his sign and spun around in my direction. “RUN ME OVER, THAT’S NICE,” he harrumphed. Well if anyone would know about “nice” it would be this dude amirite?

There were many, many witty and original zingers like:

“YOU’RE LOSERS!!! LOSER!!! LOSER!!! LOSER!!! LOSER!!! LOSER!!! YOU’RE AAAAALLLLL LOSERS!!!”

“WINNING!!! ALWAYS WINNING!!!”

“LOSERS KEEP WALKING!!! WINNERS CAN STOP HERE AND SHAKE MY [ungloved] HAND!!!”

He did get awfully quiet when a large black man on a bicycle stopped to engage him. Gosh, I wonder why that is?

“Do something else,” I heard someone say. “We’re getting bored.”

As we all know, conservatives are nothing if not boring, and so I would soon turn my attention back to my current Netflix binge.

Today I learned via my upstairs neighbor that these tools also made an appearance at the liquor store around the corner. That’s right: my liquor store. Not to buy booze though, just to taunt the extremely essential worker running the register with more tedious and unoriginal anti-queer barbs. And one of the @$$holes got himself arrested for spitting on a woman who told him to put on a mask.

Good times.

My first thought was I’m so happy these particular people are doing exactly the right things to catch COVID-19. Obviously our world would be a far better place without them in it. Unfortunately, that’s not how the virus or conservatives work. They cannot help but do their worst damage to the most vulnerable and defenseless among us. Kovid Karrying Konservatives are bound to infect not just each other at their junior fascist circle jerks, but other people upon whom they inflict themselves, many of whom have no choice in the matter.

Have a nice day.

My esteemed colleague is asking…

How are you treated as an atheist? [Via From the Ashes of Faith.]

I saw the question/post on the sidebar and felt like flexing Ye Olde Writing Muscle and answering it. Unfortunately for ashes, my answer turned into a rambling rant more suitable to inflict on you people, by which of course I mean my people: Squirrel Haters. Here’s my answer. (My comment, followed by my apology therefor, are still awaiting moderation there as of this posting.)

Reporting from NYC here, that infamous bastion of moral turpitude: feminists, POC, AOC, leftists, queer people, Muslims, godless heathens and all those other notorious devils your mother warned you about. Especially those godless heathens!

Even for me, it’s an interesting and timely question, it turns out. Soooo…I’ve recently had multiple surgeries followed by hospital admissions at an enormous, sprawling, nominally Jewish hospital-and-medical-school complex in Manhattan. It’s the kind of place where the intake forms in nearly every doctor’s office – and I’ve been to a LOT of ’em – ask for “preferred name” and “preferred pronoun,” and the various departments proudly display a rainbow flag or two with messages of welcoming and inclusivity. The staff, from renowned surgeons to janitors, is probably as diverse as the U.N.’s. You get the picture.

Now I don’t know if it’s an effect of cancer and its treatments or just a typical case of don’t-give-a-fuck-itis, but if someone who is responsible for some aspect of my medical care is going to ask me about my religion, and the physician practices all do, I say “atheist” without skipping a beat. I have that privilege here.

Or do I? Two surgeries ago back in November, I remember filling out some form or answering some questioner as usual with “athiest.” I get up to pre-op holding, and various people and teams keep dropping by to introduce themselves, then examine and interrogate me (anesthesia docs, O.R. nurses, surgical residents, etc.). I instantly forget all of their names, faces and roles. As I was being wheeled away to the O.R., one of these people, a woman perhaps in her thirties, leans over and says to me almost conspiratorially, “It was nice to see ‘atheist’ in your chart. I wish more people were so open about it.” Huh?! Okay…

As an aside here, yes yes this is a “Jewish” hospital, but nearly every single Jewish person in my circle of friends is at least agnostic, and some are quite openly atheist. And also Jewish, in the cultural sense. They celebrate and honor Jewish holidays with family and friends, just like other atheists might celebrate Christmas.

FF to my most recent surgery and admission, about a week ago. It’s 6:00am and I’m at the very first gatekeeper: the insurance coverage and your copay’s due now person. She takes my credit card and asks me the usual litany of basic biographical questions, including religion. “Atheist,” I say. She doesn’t blink, but after a few seconds appears puzzled at her screen. A supervisor type behind her apparently overheard me, and comes over to assist. It’s apparently no longer a fill-in-the-blank space, and it’s not on the (new?) drop-down menu. I mean it should be right there after Adventist, Seventh Day. Or whatever. I helpfully pitch all sorts of euphemisms like “godless?” “how about heathen?” “None?” “Listen I can take agnostic, just for today?” They’re both mystified that it’s not there. I say, “Come on, I can’t be the only one here today, there are lots of us!” They sort of mumble agreement and apologies and a “Yeah, I know some…”

I don’t know what religion they finally decided to choose on my behalf. Pretty sure the credit card part was the only real key to getting past them.

Some interesting answers are already there – maybe go have a read and answer for yourself?

7-year old squirrel attack victim speaks out!

Survivor of multiple violent murder attempts by enemy rodent menace.
(image: ABC-7 New York)

 

The 7-year old victim of multiple bite wounds from an unprovoked squirrel attack on Wednesday in Brooklyn has spoken to ABC-7 New York about her horrifying ordeal. Readers may recall from my post yesterday that she is being subjected to a course of rabies treatment as a precaution, and was seriously traumatized by the relentless assault. “She is not OK,” her father Andres said. “Every night, she’s crying and scared. ‘Please papi, help me, the squirrel is coming, a big one.'”

Now, adorable little Maria Guerrero and her father have added more disturbing details to the terrifying tale:

[Read more…]

Bleecker Street Fair.

Once upon a time, I ran kicking and screaming from the Philly ‘burbs to New York City. Once I got here, I felt like a kid in a candy store. A really fucking great candy store. One that has fantastic toys too. (Also: shoes.) There were, and still are, too many charms and treats to enumerate in a blog post, but a New York summer street fair is definitely near the top of that list.

Some street fairs have specific themes (like food, or art) but my favorites are the more eclectic affairs that feature local artisans and collectors. Sometimes the artisans run the booths, tents and kiosks themselves, and engage potential customers in interesting conversations about their work. It’s like shopping at the ultimate Anti-Mall: there is little on offer here that one can find in a retail chain store. (I often start my winter holiday shopping in July at city street fairs.)

I unexpectedly stumbled into a street fair in my neighborhood on Saturday afternoon. I had very little time, so unfortunately I could only walk about half the length of it. But I wanted to try and capture the experience in photos. For you.

xo
__________

Bleecker Street
between 11th and Bank Streets
July 15, 2017

[NOTE: any unobscured face visible in this post is published with the express permission of said face’s owner. All rights reserved.]

[Read more…]

Pride Fest!

I went out for a drink stroll before the crushing crowds completely take over the neighborhood. It was pretty fucking amazing.

The sound of NYPD helicopters—ever-present over any sizable gathering, especially in lower Manhattan—are being drowned out by the DJs. :D

Please enjoy some pics, plus this playlist which I have artfully entitled: Music heard and/or inspired by what I can hear out my window. [Read more…]

Happy Pride 2017.

It’s a beautiful day in NYC. Sunny skies all day, with a predicted high of 85F. If you’re celebrating Pride here today, I hope you find joy, connection and solidarity among friends, old and new.

Stay safe out there. Take care of each other. There are too many haters among us.

Blooming on Hudson Street.

Spring in the city = riotous color. Even those of us with the most monochromatic black winter wardrobes – for all intents and purposes a required uniform for living here – yield, however slightly, to bursts of brightness.

And why not? The streets and parks are enchantingly abloom. Apparently miniature daffodils, which I had never seen (or noticed?) before, were all the rage in the Village this April. They are fucking adorable and make me smile. (Okay, or at least make me want to.) Alas, their little yellow petals have just started to crinkle and droop, and now I haz a sad. :(

But all is not lost! Because the tulips have begun crashing their party and stealing their show. Shopkeepers are suddenly engaging in some kind of botany arms race, taking full advantage of urns and planters outside their businesses. Come see for yourself.  [Read more…]

Thoughts on yesterday.

[CONTENT NOTE: homelessness, including image of a homeless person.]

It’s a dreary, snowy day in NYC. Not the fun kind of snow that hushes the city in a thick blanket of otherworldly white (and, ideally, melts overnight without a trace). This is a dismal snow, dark flurries of tiny wet flakes that liquefy upon reaching the ground.

But! Yesterday was glorious. It’s days like these that seem to electrify the city (or maybe the city-dwellers?), demanding to be witnessed in all of their vivid splendor and grotesquery. I had appointments and errands on my morning schedule, followed by a late lunch with a dear friend visiting from out of town. This is what I saw. [Read more…]