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Archive for the ‘life’ Category

Books, the bodies of reading, were fascinating for me early in life, and I’m fortunate enough to have had parents who, after I left for college, saved many that I had as a kid. The oversized Dinosaur picture book, the scholastic book service biographies I ordered in school, the heroic war stories, the Vonnegut novels. The whole collection fit neatly on shelves built in over my bed.

The book shelves of my first apartments were also easily ordered. After a decade and a half in San Francisco, I moved, following a job across the bay that kept me busy for months. But one Saturday morning I woke with the usual to-do-list, which was interrupted by the realization I’d never properly sorted my books. Many simply came out of the boxes, which I’d filled by size and shape, not subject.

It was a nice weekend—my recollection is it was blustery outside, but inside I stacked piles of books, moving between bookcases in my living room, kitchen, and bedroom. American fiction, travel guides, a stack for Anne Tyler, movie references, et cetera.

I respect the decimal system of Dewey, but my categories are more organic. A History of Eating in America next to a Chinese cookbook; the collected Grantas shared space next to Graham Greene because they fit well.

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You, small male child: build things!

I got these Tinker toys as a Christmas gift, perhaps in the hope of encouraging my engineering skills. And there I was, with my nose stuck in a book.

Looking to pare down possessions, I look at this stuff now and wonder if anyone might want it, before I toss it out.

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ERNIE R.I.P.

He was so attune to me. I’d be watching TV, glance over at him, and he was watching me. It might sound creepy, but it wasn’t.

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Ernie, in early November

Our sweet old German shepherd mix, Ernie, became very feeble toward the end of his life. I kept waiting for a sign from him, but his appetite never diminished.  A dog-walking friend described how “the light went out” in her dog’s eyes, and she knew it was time. The light never left Ernie’s eyes:  he was always alert, attune to me, the shepherd in him ever watchful.

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I took a year off from college once and traveled around the country. For a while, I stayed out on the farm where my grandmother had been born, living with my great-aunt.

I was helping my grandfather paint houses. I came home one day to find that my great-aunt had darned a couple pairs of my socks.

Really: she took needle and thread and created these deft cross-hatchings that patched holes. I remember I was touched.

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Changing Time

Time has morphed since I left the court. Perhaps metamorphosed? Or as Calvin (of Hobbes) had it:  transmogrified? When I was still working, there was a need to get done what I could when I could with the free time I had. I was often focused on time efficiency, and all too often at a certain point had to leave some aspect undone until later. Now there is the concept of plenty of time, which inflates the expectation of how much I can get done.

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It’s time. I’ve saved for years. I bought five extra years’ service with the state, bolstering my pension. I don’t have to work in the court system any more. The judicial process is painstaking, and as a citizen I appreciate the serious efforts of the courts to apply the law, to resolve conflicts, to get things right — at the same time, I don’t have to take those pains myself any more.

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