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Fruit and Flowers

Today is Rob’s and my fourth wedding anniversary. We all know what this means: You’ve had four years to get me a present, so where is it?

Um, ha ha. What I meant to say is, this means my yearly link back to the day it all happened.

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Achievements

Goblin got her last leg x-ray yesterday and, more than eight months after rupturing her ligament, has finally been pronounced fully healed. She has suffered so much since last Christmas—with the original injury, the botched surgery, the veterinary malpractice, the severe infections, the surgery to undo the botched surgery, the surgery to redo the botched surgery properly, and the numerous x-rays, rehabilitation therapies, acupuncture appointments, and rolfing appointments thrown in for good measure. But she bore these pains and indignities with her usual good spirits (except for biting all of the vets and techs who dared look in her direction, a turn of events we have come to rely upon like the sunrise), and I am very proud of her.

In other news, Rob has been hearing ghostly, disembodied voices and orchestras in the night and has taken to shutting himself up in his office to focus on a special project called “All Work and No Play Make Rob a Dull Boy.”

I keep telling him, “Sweetheart, you’re not dull,” but he is insistent to the point of repetition.

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I’m Sawwy

Today I hand delivered a sincere note from Goblin to a little boy, apologizing for biting him. It was on engraved stationery. The little boy is Alex, the younger of two sons adopted by a gay couple in our neighborhood. Yesterday, while I was chatting with his fathers, Alex tried to grab Goblin and pulled back a bloody stump. Or that’s what you would have thought had you heard his ear-splitting wails; she actually barely broke the skin on one of his knuckles.

Alex is Vietnamese and his big brother is Chinese, but both are being raised bilingually in English and German. I am in no small amount of awe of this entire situation. I just hope Goblin’s apology is accepted at face value and that a child raised amongst the harsh vowels and guttural consonants of the Teutonic language doesn’t start asking pragmatic questions about how a dog got a hold of engraved stationery.

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What Every Kid Should Know

Nobody can remember what time of day I was born, a deficiency that has perturbed my potential astrologers to no end and made me wonder if the blessed event occurred at all or if I oozed into the world by other means. My mother does, however, claim to recall that I could read before I ever went to school, which strikes me as correct, and if I stitch the stray patches of my own early memories together, I come up with a quilt of voracious proficiency in the art. Which is why that day in Mr. Nordfjord’s third grade class is so perplexing: when asked to read aloud from the textbook—something about christening a newly discovered seashell after an old man—I suddenly couldn’t. That is, I could perceive the words with my eyes, my brain processed them effortlessly, but my tongue and lips stumbled over them as if shot full of novacaine. This disconnect was perhaps the first instance of my brain misfiring, something that happens hourly now as I confuse people’s names, choke on random words, and type entire sentences when I mean to type completely different sentences. Sometimes I wonder if it’s my own brain that’s the problem or if something else that’s trying to communicate through me is gumming up the works. I don’t, for example, remember writing the first half of this paragraph, although it must have happened mere seconds ago. I’m not on drugs, merely in a “zone,” but what else happens in that zone? If I traverse it from this end back to its origin, will I discover my true self or something of alien origin signaling for help?

That moment in the third grade, incidentally, must have also been when Mr. Nordfjord decided I was an idiot. When I had him again for fifth grade, he pulled me aside for a helpful lecture about how no one liked me and how I had to pull my head out of the clouds and learn about real life. He recommended a book called What Every Kid Should Know, which I checked out of the library expecting to unravel the great mysteries my sheltered upbringing had kept mysterious but instead prescribed such prosaic cures as getting a bank account of my own (something I already had) and keeping secrets (something I already did). One of my biggest secrets at that point was that I wanted to go to bed with Mr. Nordfjord, but the bloom did not stay long on that particular rose.

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Dream a Little Dream

Last night, I had the strangest dream. Strange in a good way this time, to the extent that I didn’t want to wake up and shake it off even though it had already jumped the shark, as dreams do.

I was in some caverns under, I believe, Virginia as part of a Smithsonian boat tour I had already taken, so I felt confident enough to jump out in an area that I considered my favorite to do some additional exploring. At that point, I stumbled into a beautiful series of chambers that happened to be occupied by my next-door neighbors. In real life, I have two sets of next-door neighbors, one good and one evil. These were the good ones, who happen to be really too old to be stumbling around in caverns, but in the dream, they knew the tunnels like the back of their hands and over their lives had frequently come to this spot I had only just discovered.

During the course of talking with them, I learned that the husband was actually a reclusive writer of the J.D. Salinger sort, except his opus was not Catcher in the Rye but (I’m not kidding) Alvin and the Chipmunks, and he looked upon this literary creation with both pride and chagrin. But to his wife and legions of fans, he was considered a pure modern genius, and so many people wanted to learn at his feet that he went into hiding, both as my mild-mannered neighbor and more literally in these caves under Virginia.

As the dream continued, I learned that the wife was a literary genius, too, and though I spent much time speaking with her spouse and learning his secrets, she was the one who ended up taking me under her wing and insisting that I get serious about my writing. To that end, she forced me to sit in a boat that circled through three of the beautiful caverns with only a notebook for companionship. Whenever I passed her, I would yell out excuses as to why I couldn’t write a word, and she would order me to get over it, and eventually, when my excuses ran out, I did and started writing beautiful prose the likes of which the world has never seen. Obviously this was a dream, both because of the beautiful prose and the fact that I could read my own handwriting.

That was the best part of the dream, floating in circles in my beautiful subconscious, unabashedly basking in the joy and flow of creation, no excuses, no problems, no self-editing.

Of course, knowing me, this could not go on for very long, and the dream ended with me taking the husband to a store that sold both lamps and car washes, and walking through the car wash part with him. He was perfectly happy with this turn of events, and I was just wet.

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VIII

Today is Goblin’s eighth birthday. If she had been born a day sooner, she would have turned eight on eight/eight/eight and had tremendous good fortune for all her years. Unfortunately, she didn’t poke her little snoot out in time and had to endure this:

Actually, I think she likes her new look. She was remarkably good while [someone who shall remain nameless] painted her nails, and then she sort of preened a bit before farting and falling asleep. Well, a girl gets to do whatever she likes best on her birthday.