— this is really happening


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I had a very canine weekend. Dogs every day. Dog training observations, clicker classes, running sessions. It was a stumbled upon, unplanned reintroduction to dog wisdom, dog appreciation, and dog affection. I am growing more smitten with pit bulls every day. Again, unplanned. We’re seeing where it’s all going. No decision to jump into lightly. I am not telling my kitties about their someday future cross-species brother or sister. We’re sticking to jingle mice and unscented litter, for now. (All this action could be much in part to my upcoming move to a dog-friendly apartment building, btw, which is very, very, very exciting, if you hadn’t yet gotten the TPS report on that.)

So here is something special. To dogs! Der Hunden! Il Cane!


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I’ve never had to work a graveyard shift, so it is with an air of privilege and creeping meatballism that I say, I’d like to try living nocturnal for a week. Not to watch every episode in the fourty-two season Days of Our Lives marathon that TBS will air every midnight to 8am until August (sorry Jon, still no Tivo), but because the first three hours of dawn are perhaps my favorite three hours of the day (if I manage to be awake). I need to determine if this is just romantic infatuation, or if easy living is more possible at night. Really, if the work day consisted of three segments of dawn piled on top of each other, I’d already be a double PhD, I’m positively sure of it. I can work faster, with more pleasure, and with less distraction when I am at the computer machine at dawn. Plus, nothing beats a 4am visit to a supermarket, especially if it’s been raining and your shoes are squeakers. You may have to wait for the checker to emerge from the stocking shelves, and you still have to contend with the 11 million watts of fluorescent, but it’s front of the line every time.

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These are words and phrases that rhyme with monica. It’s important if you ever want to write me poetry. Or something. Although I probably won’t answer, feel free to call me by any of my rhymes, especially the last one. 🙂

3 syllables:
bonica, donica, konica

4 syllables:
harmonica, japonica,

5 syllables:

6 syllables:
genus veronica

7 syllables:

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(I think I’ve told you this story before, but it’s fun, and it’s "funner" to repeat it.) Observe, the child’s plea for an instant grilled cheese to arrive warm and crackly on a plate: "Daaaad, I’m hungry."  To my request, my Dad used to say, slapping his knee, convinced he should be a writer on The Tonight Show, "It’s good to want things." My Dad was full of stuff like that. When I was cold I’d say, "Daaaaad, I’m cold." He’d say, "It’s always colder somewhere else." Great, thanks.

But today, I say to you, it’s always colder somewhere else

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I am leaving momentarily. On my way to go celebrate the life and living of my mother, Sabina Baral on her 60th birthday. She is a light of lights. A tremendous giver and teacher, a ball breaker, a saint. I love her infinitely.

A few words from Billy Collins on the subject. I intend to read this poem at some point during the weekend’s festivities. I hope it is a sort of gift, however uneven.

The Lanyard

The other day I was ricocheting slowly
off the blue walls of this room,
moving as if underwater from typewriter to piano,
from bookshelf to an envelope lying on the floor,
when I found myself in the L section of the dictionary
where my eyes fell upon the word lanyard.

No cookie nibbled by a French novelist
could send one into the past more suddenly—
a past where I sat at a workbench at a camp
by a deep Adirondack lake
learning how to braid long thin plastic strips
into a lanyard, a gift for my mother.

I had never seen anyone use a lanyard
or wear one, if that’s what you did with them,
but that did not keep me from crossing
strand over strand again and again
until I had made a boxy
red and white lanyard for my mother.

She gave me life and milk from her breasts,
and I gave her a lanyard.
She nursed me in many a sick room,
lifted spoons of medicine to my lips,
laid cold face-cloths on my forehead,
and then led me out into the airy light

and taught me to walk and swim,
and I, in turn, presented her with a lanyard.
Here are thousands of meals, she said,
and here is clothing and a good education.
And here is your lanyard, I replied,
which I made with a little help from a counselor.

Here is a breathing body and a beating heart,
strong legs, bones and teeth,
and two clear eyes to read the world, she whispered,
and here, I said, is the lanyard I made at camp.
And here, I wish to say to her now,
is a smaller gift—not the worn truth

that you can never repay your mother,
but the rueful admission that when she took
the two-tone lanyard from my hand,
I was as sure as a boy could be
that this useless, worthless thing I wove
out of boredom would be enough to make us even.

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