i woke up at noon this morning, the perfect time to get up since sleeping any later than that would void and nullify the rest of my day. i thought about going for a run, but the weather was no better than yesterday's, rainy and cold. i heated up a chicken pot pie pocket in the microwave, forgetting that i had some leftover ribs from last night. i also made myself a smoothie, working more fruits into my diet. manny came over to do our christmas gift exchange. i gave him a dvd of the original battlestar galactica movie in mysterious letterboxed format (i thought the show was made for television, no theatrical release), he gave me a circa 1992 framed poster of the original "dream team" USA basketball squad at competed at the olympics, a shower radio, a copy of "the garden book" (one of those phaidon photo books), and his sister maureen gave me a miniature lawn gnome figurine sitting on a swingset. this is an inside joke because she's always telling me how my own lawn gnome will come to life and kill me. how delightful! the mail also came, my t-shirts arrived but when i opened up the bag it was missing one of the shirts i ordered for some reason, so now i have to go through the whole process of tracking my order and talking with their customer service people. manny had some errands to run and i asked if he could do me a big favor and take me to the nearest petco (in this case the one by the galleria mall) so i can buy some fish for my aquarium.

so we left, first to office max east cambridge where they had a special "trade in your old ink cartridge for a ream of printing paper" deal. i almost didn't believe it, but he just walked up to the counter with his old ink and they let him take a ream of paper. next we went to petco, where for some reason the service today wasn't particularly up to the petco standard. after much careful consideration, i decided to go for the bargain fish, $4 for 5 cherry barbs. they're tropical fish, but i'm hoping they're hardy enough to take 60 degrees water temperature. the boy scooping out the fish for me was kind of rough with the animals, putting them in a plastic cup then dumping them into a plastic bag. i could imagine all sorts of other animal abuse that goes on behind closed doors. i also got an aquarium net and a container of fish flakes. when i went to go pay for my stuff, the total cost was more than i thought. "how much are the fish?" i asked the cashier girl. turns out you only get the $4/5 deal if you use your petco card, which i didn't have. i asked if i could apply for one and get the discount, and she seemed kind of annoyed by it all, and then pulled out two forms from a drawer, "fill out this form, and that form," she said, slapping a pen on the counter while she redid my purchase. after i finished the forms, she asked me, "did i give your money yet?" "huh?" i said, not hearing her question. she repeated herself again, this time louder and slower, like i was retarded. "oh, no, not yet," i replied. like i said, not the most courteous service today!

next, manny and i went to the post office down by south station, where we waited 30 minutes for our number to be called so manny could send a slightly used textbook to an online book reseller for some money. a man asked putting a letter into the mailbox shouted to one of the clerks, "is this place numbered?" the clerk looked at him, "huh? what do you mean?" "i mean, is this place numbered, like mailboxes have numbers." "no," said the clerk, causing the man to leave. the clerk singled me out of the crowd and gave me a shrug while shaking her head.

i finally got a ride home, holding the bag of fish in my hands, periodically checking that they were okay.

i put them in the fish tank inside the bag for about an hour to let them adjust to the temperature before scooping them out into the tank. i noticed one of them was kind of lethargic, but i didn't think much of it. they were sort of swimming around, but i saw one of them wasn't doing very much swimming, but was kind of lurking at the bottom of the tank, kind of flapping around on its side a little bit. figuring that it might be some kind of fish "culture shock" i decided to wait it out, sprinkled some food in case they were hungry. after it didn't seem like it was improving, i removed that one fishy fish from the tank and put him in quarantine, using half water from the original tranport bag and half tap water (fish people: "tony, you probably just killed your fish right there"), and put the spare fish tank in the bathroom, the warmest room in the house. when i went to check on the fish an hour later, it was just floating in the tank.

terminal barb
i've never had fish before. i know others who have, but i've never personally raised fish as pets. to me, they're not so much pets, as they are science experiment/home decoration. still, experiencing my first fish death, it was weird. and so mysterious too. was it something i did? did i somehow injure it during the transport? maybe it was already injured back at the store? i went through the five stages of grieving in under 30 seconds then gave that fish a proper burial in the toilet bowl.

the other 4 fish seem fine though. cherry barbs look like very tiny reddish goldfish (they're from the same family, cyprinids). i saw them eat the flakes, and each seem to be developing its own personality, although i try to remain detached from them since i believe they might not last very long with my semi-cold water tank. there's one that's definitely a little bigger than the others, and i saw it eating first. there's also another one with some sort of defective snout (did i cause that as well?), instead of pointing forward like in most fish, it points slightly downwards, like a tapir. i never really knew this, but i think fish do some sleeping, they sort of slow down and just kind of float around in the tank, sometimes headfirst, other times just horizontal. at least i hope that's sleeping! it'd totally suck if they all died tonight.

i had the leftover ribs for dinner and the rest of my canteloupe. heavily caffeinated eliza called me twice to invite me to an impromptu party at her place, but i told her i had to stay with my fish. i finished out the evening with a hot shower listening to music, secretly wishing that no more fish would die.