Something biting my arm and squeezing the back of my neck felt so real I had to wake up twice and shine light on my arm to be certain no creature or other had sunk its teeth or claws into me. Through the nearly rigor-mortis sound of a voice half asleep I turned over and shouted “WHO’S THERE? WHO’S THERE?” No one was there behind me, grabbing my neck, but I had to turn quickly back to see if a rat or raccoon or other creature could be seen scurrying away, a chunk of my flesh in its jaw.

There was no creature, no person, and no injury to my arm. I turned on the phone to shine light on my arm, still believing I’d been bitten by something. No scratches, no bite marks, nothing but the usual epidermal imperfections, and the back of my hand which our culture has always assumed I know better than anything but which is, always, something new to me. I don’t know if I would recognize the backs of my hands in a lineup.

It was 4 am and I quickly returned to sleep but it was restless, words and sentences careening incoherently among squiggly tapeworms and flailing banana peels. Around 5am I double-checked the arm for injury, finding none. I listened for footsteps or breathings of an intruder, hearing nothing but the usual 5am noises from the neighbors upstairs. Maybe it was they paid a 4am visit.

That half-strangled sound of one’s voice rising from a nightmare is scary. It sounds more dead than alive, reflecting the way your body goes into something like rigor mortis mode when you sleep. It’s a primal form of … something. I was going to say protection against nocturnal attackers but I’m not sure that’s why peoples’ bodiesfreeze up like the dead when they sleep.

I think my fear of being attacked in the night comes from an encounter with the landlord last week. I had contacted him at least three times, probably more, to report the ceiling collapse in my bedroom. Once he made some foggy comment about having to go to Pennsylvania the next day. The other calls and text messages (with photos of the damage) were just ignored. In the past few years I simply don’t ask him to fix anything. When I do he whines, lies, blames me for destructive negligence, then demands that I move out. All of this is illegal but it’s typical of how he’s commnuicated with me pretty much since the day I moved in something like 25 years ago. He’s always treated me like a child. The fact that he is old enough to be my father, and that I happen to be the exact same age as his late son, I think plays somewhat into that dynamic. But all told I can never trust the guy. He lies continuously, blames me for problems I could not possibly have created, steals money from me because he knows I cannot yell over him when he demands it…

Enough. None of this matters outside my nightmares of retaliation. I imagine the landlord dropping a box load of rats into my apartment, then blaming me for the problem. That was what flashed through my mind with today’s 4am nightmare. Was that an animal biting me, and did Tom send it in? Memories of a conversation with a Bronx man who said rats sleep with him in his bed came to mind.

Yesterday was a nothingburger. Sunday. Hotter than I expected. The project of the day was a survey of street furniture in my area, starting with a Little Free Library of questionable legality, then focusing on USPS blue mailboxes and Green/Brown Relay Mail/Storage boxes. The former are all pretty modern, after the USPS replaced every single blue mailbox in the 5 boroughs in 2017 and 2018. The latter, those hulking green or brown boxes corroded to a point of near entropic submission, are still actively used but probably do not cross most people’s radar. The Relay boxes outnumber the blue boxes, though I don’t know the ratio. I’d guess it’s at least 3:1. In Midtown there are certain blocks were you will see 8-10 of them in a row. These are the type of storage boxes where you might find an undelivered letter from WWII.

I also looked at the new Compost bins, possibly the newest piece of City-sanctioned street furniture, which I believe first appeared in Astoria. I’ve seen some people jumping for joy over the City implementing a composting program. I don’t have a problem with it but I have no opinion or comment, either. I cannot figure out how the compost bin card that I got for free from DSNY is supposed to work. It confounds me.

Back at work, where my transfer to the new division continues to not happen more than 6 months after I was told I would start in 2 weeks. I did a full day of training for it and was told I’d start August 1 but on that day my boss was unexpectedly absent and I, a low-ranking scrub, honestly had no idea who it would have been appropriate to contact. So I didn’t contact anybody. Maybe I’ll start today. Who knows. For this entity it’s been a surprisingly disorganized project.

I have changed breakfast from a pound of strawberries to a few plums and a banana. I wanted to be certain you knew that.