I thought I saw a dog in the dark

What I saw: the other night, I hopped in the car to go get my kids from the train station, and as I pulled out of the garage I thought I saw a small, light-colored dog, cowering under the wheels of our truck.

What I did beforehand: grabbed my spare glasses because I couldn’t find my usual pair.

What I wore: dirty jeans, Birkenstock clogs, parka.

Who went with me: after convincing myself that it wasn’t an imaginary dog, I got out of the car and tried to call it; it was too scared. I went back in the house and got some dehydrated liver treats and coaxed it out; it had a collar but no tags. It took the treats from me and retreated behind the truck to eat them. I started to call it “Little White Dog.” 

How I will get my next dog: maybe I will get a vizsla puppy in the spring. Maybe I will take in a foster dog. Maybe I will wait until a dog finds me. Maybe my two current dogs are my last two dogs. I used to try to think about things like this, to quell my awake-at-four-in-the-morning thoughts. I’d make contingency plans, based on various disaster scenarios. The year my mom died I learned that impossible things happen, and 2016 has been another year of impossible things. I try not to make contingency plans, believing instead in the ability of my future self to know what to do. 

Why I saw this show: the Graduate was here the weekend before, celebrating the Xmas holiday with us, and he brought along his girlfriend and she brought along her little dog, Snipe. They’d been gone several days when the Little White Dog appeared in the night. The Little White Dog was more stout than Snipe, and had shorter legs, but for one baffling instant I did think that somehow Snipe was still here. Or had come back.

Where I sat: the Bacon Provider went to get the kids at the train station while I tried to lure Little White Dog inside. I wondered if someone had dumped it on our road, the way they’d dumped an old mattress here. 

Things that were sad: I got the dog a dish of water and a bit of kibble and lured it into the garage but when I tried to close the garage door, Little White Dog was startled by the noise and bolted out, into the darkness. 

Things that were not funny: our next-door neighbors have three dogs, a fat foxhound, a rowdy black and white Great Dane, and a small, fluffy white dog. I wasn’t sure if this Little White Dog maybe lived next door, though I doubted it. I felt like this Little White Dog was bigger than the one I’d seen next door. I followed the dog into my backyard, still trying to lure it with food. Soon enough the Bacon Provider returned with the kids and we together decided that a car we saw driving slowly by might have been looking for Little White Dog. So we followed Little White Dog down the driveway and down the hill and up the neighbor’s driveway. I rang the bell. A teenager answered, with his posse of three excited dogs, and the rowdy Great Dane blasted past, chasing Little White Dog back into the darkness. Some shouting followed. 

Things that were funny: at this point, the slow-driving car returned, and we flagged her down. Inside was an older woman who was looking for the dog. It belonged to her friend, and it had followed her when she drove away. Little White Dog’s name was supposed to be “Thumper,” though when she called him he seemed as disinclined to join her as he had been to come to me. After some more pointless running around in the woods, I got a hand on him and almost had him when he decided that going back to his owner’s friend was better than being chased by me, so she caught him and put him in her car.

Something I ate: too many Christmas cookies. 

What it is: I have owned one dog and two dogs and three dogs and know for certain that three is exactly too many dogs.


Who should see it: you should knock on your neighbor’s door and introduce yourself when they move in. I should go knock on my neighbors’ doors and introduce myself since they didn’t do it first. Maybe next year.

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What I saw when I got home: my own dog, Captain, who has such deep feelings.

A List (Because I Have Run Out of Ideas)

Schwartz and the Parking Ticket

1. There is no such thing as an idea
2. I might be wrong about number 1.
3. Words were invented by people to represent ideas.
4. Numbers were invented by people to represent quantities.
4 ½. Sometimes people mistake the symbol we use to represent a number for the actual quantity itself.
5. Not every thing I write down needs to stay on a list.
6. Cherry is getting old, and some days it’s more noticeable than others and today was one of those days.
7. Not every thing I write down in an effort to be funny turns out to be funny
8. Cats might be good at accounting but we’ll never know because who would let a cat handle their books?
9. People really liked my tweet the other day comparing Donald Trump to cat shit.
10. I lost my list of the missing stuff
11. Sometimes when I need to sing something I sing “Acres of Clams.”
12. On August 21, 2009 I watched six episodes of Hannah Montana and liked them. I think I was running a fever. The only reason I know this is because I said it on Facebook.
13. Cats remember how many kittens they have, so they probably have an idea of number.
14. I think about numbers all the time, both in the sense of numerical quantity and in the sense of the symbol for a number.
15. Whenever I see a parking ticket in the gutter in New York City, I feel sad for the person who got the ticket and doesn’t know because the ticket fell off and the fines go way up over time if you don’t pay them.
16. Sometimes I feel like writing is always going to be a struggle.
17. When I wake up really early and can’t get back to sleep I worry about things like whether I got a parking ticket that blew off my car and I don’t know it and the fines are going up right now as I lie here in the dark not sleeping and worrying about it.
18. My mom didn’t realize she was allergic to our cat until after he died and as her house got clean she started to feel better.
19. I had lots of favorite numbers as a kid, including 16, but I do not have one now. I like the number 8 for a variety of reasons but I still wouldn’t call it my favorite.
20. My friend had a cat with terrible allergies and it always struck me as kind of funny.
21. This other list said, “Find my pajamas,” and I don’t know if I ever did.
22. I don’t even have a favorite color.
23. Once I got a parking ticket on my car when it was parked in front of my own house in Seattle and I’d forgotten to put the new registration sticker on the license plate.
24. When I was a kid I was allowed to watch as much TV as I wanted and so I watched a lot of TV. I almost never watch TV now but I waste a lot of time on the Internet which you probably knew anyway.
25. This other time, I got a parking ticket on my car when it was parked in front of my own apartment building in New York and I was going in to check the mail and get the new registration sticker.
26. I am so easily distracted.
27. Once, I was house-hunting in Bedford, New York and got a parking ticket in a paid lot, and they issued the ticket about ten minutes after the time expired and the car had been there for like four hours or something so I definitely got the feeling that some police officer sat there the whole day waiting for my paid parking to expire in the town’s one public lot and the only thing he did that whole day was slap that ticket on my windshield and when I got that ticket about ten minutes after it had been written I was like, Oh, hey, guess I don’t actually wanna live here in Bedford, huh? But, maybe, in retrospect, having cops with absolutely nothing whatsoever to do is a good sign and meant that I should have come back and looked at more ranch houses. Maybe that was my error.
28. I can’t decide if cats would give parking tickets or would just piss on anything you left in a place they considered against the rules.
 29. I thought about making a list of advice for college sophomores but once I thought about it I was like, “You got this.”
30. Some lists aren’t really necessary, but they do manage to help organize one’s thoughts.

Lost Keys

I found my keys.
I stared at the carpet under the dining room table
The bastards went missing on Saturday. I had them on Friday. I walked the damned dogs on Friday. I wouldn’t have made it back into the apartment without them. Then on Saturday I didn’t see them as we were rushing out the door and I shrugged it off.
Saturday night we were out of the city, and I was driving, so I had those keys, but not the house keys. When Sunday rolled around and I began to wonder.
As soon as I began to wonder, the panic set in.
I checked all the jacket pockets. I went through the tangle of scarves in the coat closet and folded them and put them away for summer. I checked all my purses, even the ones I haven’t carried in months. I crawled around the apartment on my belly, looking under furniture. I stared at the carpet under the dining room table. I took the cushions off the couch and checked there. Twice.
I complained to Twitter. Repeatedly, and often.
I got sympathy from friends and the sort-of-strangers who respond to my random-ass tweets.
I accused people I live with.
I ran through the sequence of the weekend over and over.
I remembered that I had eaten at City Hall (a TriBeCa restaurant, not Mike Bloomberg’s office). We sat in a booth. I am a clutz: maybe I left my keys in the booth. I called. They are closed on Sundays.
I stewed and fretted some more. I tweeted about it. I blamed my children, my husband, and the cat.
Monday rolled around. Oh, no! I thought. No keys! I did Monday things, like going to PT, remembering a lunch date, returning the birthday camera that arrived broken. I used that last set of spares I could find. (Understand: I have three children, so I keep plenty of spare keys normally.) I crafted a note for the letter carrier, in the hopes of enticing her to ring the bell and let me fetch my mail from the locked mailbox. 
But where were the keys?
I called City Hall. The woman who answered hadn’t had any keys turned in, but you never knew. She thought I should check back when the night manager arrived, around 3 pm.
I went to PT, ate Japanese with my friend (she’s set a date!), stood in line at B&H. On my way home I stopped by City Hall and asked if perhaps they’d found my keys. The night manager had a set of keys in the drawer, but alas they were someone else’s.  He was so disappointed for me that he offered me a glass of wine at the bar. This is a restaurant that fired up generators and fed the neighborhood before the power was back for everyone else after Hurricane Sandy (or Superstorm Sandy, or Huge-Pain-In-The-Sandy-Ass or Frankenstorm Sandypants or whatever you want to call it). I like City Hall.
I did not have a glass of wine.
I did walk the dogs. Tweeted some more about my lost keys, soliciting the sympathy of strangers.
On Twitter they told me to check the fridge, the couch cushions, and the fish tank. My children suggested I check the pockets of my jackets.
I searched some more.
Tuesday I had Pilates. I made some jokes about lost keys and about trying to use my shoulders to straighten my knees. After Pilates, I made the long and lovely drive to the barn to ride. But first, I checked my car. Maybe I had dropped them there. 

I hadn’t.
At the barn I half-heartedly checked my tack trunk (I had been there on Saturday, but I didn’t recall having those keys in the barn on Saturday). 

I had a fun ride, and a surprisingly easy drive home. We had a nice dinner at Sarabeth’s, and I started to accept that I was not going to find my keys.
Today I woke up before I had to, and had a full 45 minutes to have snugs with the cat. This is a very important part of his day, probably second most important to him, right behind that bowl of breakfast kibble he demands from the Bacon Provider.  After that, I had too much green tea, which is how I like to start my day now that I’ve given up coffee. I checked my email, did a little laundry.
Something in the laundry made me think again about Saturday, when we went riding and then had dinner in Rhinebeck and then went and saw Mahler’s 2nd at the Fisher Center at Bard. I looked at the bag I carried that day, with last weekend’s riding clothes still inside it (Yes, dirty. Don’t judge. You’re the one reading an essay about lost keys, after all.). There was a vest I had briefly worn, but took off because it was too warm.
I knew as soon as I lifted it, but the uneven heft of the garment: I had found my keys.

A Letter to the Pedestrians of New York City

The umbrella you will lose anyway

Dear Citizens,
We can all agree that it was raining this evening, and lightning was seen from some parts of the city. At times the downpour was strong. Those of us who paid careful attention to the forecast may have been more prepared for the rain than those of us who did not.
Nevertheless, I would like you to consider giving up your umbrellas.
First, in the interest of public safety, consider the eyes that will go un-poked-out when you no longer stab passersby in the face. Give a thought to the unsprained ankles dangling there on the legs of the people who will no more need to dive out of your, unseeing way. Think on the empty lost-and-found shelf of your favorite restaurant, the library, and the subway, no longer required to store your forgotten umbrellas.
Next, know that your second hand is henceforward free! Now you can carry your lunch, your handbag, your gym bag, your groceries, your WNYC bag full of library books, your briefcase, your tool box, and your huge and heavy shopping bag full of new sheets from Bed, Bath & Beyond.
You will not dissolve in the rain, New York. Lift your eyes from the pavement and let the raindrops land on your eyelashes. Allow the rain to run down your cheeks. Feel the mile traveled by earth’s evaporated water from the surface of the earth up into our atmosphere and back. Welcome those raindrops back to earth.
You will not dissolve.
Yours truly,
New New Yorker
(Recent Transplant from Seattle)

Cranky Alphabet (2002)

I recently discovered an old laptop with nothing on it but a few short files written by me. 

A is the Alps, where I have never been.
B is the bottle, all out of gin (and I don’t drink gin).
C is crust,
D is dust.
E is everything, going bust.
F is for FUCK, everyone knows.
G is grape, gangrene, gristle, grows.
H is happy (HA! What a joke.)
I is such a stupid vowel I’d just as soon not include it.
J is a joke (now are you happy?).
K is a kick in the pants (“Make it snappy!”).
L is the limp.
M is a migraine.
N is nothing.
O is OVER.
P is a problem.
Q is that question, again and again.
R is a reason to stay out in the rain.
S is the same, always the same.
T is a temper, flaring up.
U is unusual,
V virulent,
W whatever, whatever, whatever.
X  is exclusive (and cross).
Y yearns for yesterday,
Z zeros in.