Stream of Consciousness

I wish I had one. A stream, that is. The past six weeks have been more like running the rapids. Sustain a thought--a single, continuous thought for more than three minutes at a time? Miraculous! If this what it is like having ADHD, no wonder so many people take Ritalin. Mind you, I'm really not sure even Ritalin would help now. Do I even have a thought to sustain?

Portrait of today: Wake up at 5:50am needing to go to the bathroom. The puppy seems quiet, so sneak to the loo before putting on hat, coat, boots and Battle Scarf filled with diaper bags (for the poop), flashlight (to find the poop in the dark), treats (dried out because for some reason I have the one puppy in the universe who is picky about what she eats), and keys. Go to puppy's crate and say, "Good morning, sweetie!" Help puppy out (her legs seem to fall asleep after she's been in the crate overnight), pick her up and carry her through the apartment and down the stairs out back--or, wait, did I go out the front this morning and then through the gate alongside the building to the back? I seem to have a dim memory of being outside in the dark in the back picking up poop. But was that today? Yes, possibly. Maybe.

Praise puppy for making such a beautiful poop and try to entice her to come back inside (i.e. to allow herself to be picked up because she can't quite manage the stairs up the back yet). Let puppy run down hallway to the door where the cat is, open door, watch puppy and cat sniff and then barrel down the hallway in the general direction of the living room. Go to bathroom and change into yoga clothes. Find puppy and put her in her play room with her meaty, marrow-filled beef bone. Get yoga block. Gingerly step over baby gate into puppy play room trying not to step on all the little bits of wicker work that the puppy has turned into splinters. Clean up splinters. Sit. Actually, this is one of the best parts of my day, doing yoga with my puppy. Sometimes she sits on me and helps me hold my poses, sometimes she just sits beside me and chews on her bone, sometimes she is feeling playful and I have to drag a toy for her to chase so that she doesn't end up eating my toes. Today she spent most of the time (about 45 minutes) chewing on her bone. Watch puppy trying to jump out of play room over the chaise longue, wonder why she is whimpering. Feel like an idiot when she squats and pees on the hearth. Repeat activities from 5:50am, but without giving her enough time to poop. Clean up poop from son's bedroom fifteen minutes later.

And now things get to be a bit of a blur. My son had today off from school and my husband decided to take a personal day, so we didn't have the usual excitement of getting them out the door dressed and fed (not that my son usually eats breakfast, and my husband frequently doesn't have time to finish his tea). But I honestly can't remember what I did next. I know that sometime during the morning, the workmen arrived and started moving appliances and cleaning up the dust from the back bedroom.* I think I was outside again with the puppy when they showed up. Yes, that sounds right. So by, say, 8:30am (was it already that late? that early?) I had been down the stairs into the ice and snow three times, every time involving getting fully dressed (see above). Then there was the anxiety about whether and when the delivery men would show up with the utility sink for the new laundry room (actually, the old pantry with the shelves removed and the plumbing rejigged) and whether the plumber would be able to come today to hook everything up. And sometime in all of this, perhaps around 9:30am, our designer arrived. But by this time we (the contractor, his men, I and my husband) had already been arguing for a good half hour about the design for the shelving to go over the washer and dryer. I seem to remember my husband sketching some plans. Oh, time to take the puppy out again.

I thought that exercise was supposed to make you fit. Why, then, am I so exhausted? Down and up, down and up. I really haven't counted how many times a day I have to go outside at the moment in order to minimize the "oops!" but it must be at least ten. Can it be that few? It feels like more. Certainly, it happens every time I've just managed to settle down with a cup of tea. And every time I feel the need to go to the loo--I'm convinced that my puppy is telepathic. And every time I try to start thinking about actually reading something substantive, other than Rumpole. Although weirdly enough, I have managed to work my way through the first two big collections and I'm nearly finished with the third. And, oh, don't forget what happens when, as today, I have to get to campus for a staff meeting. Take the puppy out, put her in her crate, bicycle through the snow hoping not to hit a slippy patch, chair the staff meeting for a sequence I'm not even teaching this year (long story), try to remember to go by my office and get the adapter for my MacBook so that I can--oh, yes!--give a talk about my research in Madison, Wisconsin, this Wednesday, and cycle back in time to take the puppy out again. Easy, right? Only today's staff meeting included phone calls from both the sink delivery guys and my husband, the delivery guys trying to figure out which doorbell to ring, and my husband confused about why they thought they had already been paid when I was sure that I was supposed to leave them a check.

Happily, the sink arrived, the plumber is coming tomorrow, the shelving is underway and the fridge is no longer blocking the sunlight into the dining room. But by 1:30pm this afternoon, I was a wreck. Okay, maybe not a wreck. But seriously hopped up on Vosges caramels (it was my birthday on Friday, yum, yum!) and wondering how on earth I was going to make it through the rest of the day, never mind (ha!) somehow prepare tomorrow for my talk. And then, blessedly, the puppy conked out. More anxiety: what should I read? I could read the rest of the chapter on the Americanization of Valentine's Day that I started this morning sometime around breakfast, but I'd already answered the question my son had about whether there was any relationship between the saint himself (Valentine) and the giving of valentines (none; blame it on Chaucer). Maybe I should make a stab at that book that I am supposed to review (due January 10). No, can't think about that yet. But I do feel like a little bit of theology. Puppy is cuddled at my feet, so ask son to reach me that book from the stack by the couch to which I keep adding. He had to dig a bit, but somehow managed to find it: Alison Milbank's essay on Chesterton and Tolkien and the reality of what is, fairy-tale version. Except then the phone rang. Who was it? I don't remember. And I had a thought about a new security door for our front porch to match the door that we're getting for the back. Oh, and didn't I spend some time before I started reading helping my son review for his big Constitution exam?

The puppy is barking in her sleep right now. Sometime this afternoon, I know that I nodded off, and yet it was still only 5pm when I woke up and realized it was time to take the puppy out again. It was dusk and the sky was a smoky pink and the bare trees in the neighbor's back yard were filled with starlings. By the time we came back out again after dinner, say, an hour later, it was dark, the starlings had flown, and the snow was coming down in minute, sparkling flakes, just enough to catch the light from the porches. I had some turkey frank to help my abstemious puppy practice following me and coming to her name, and then the downstairs neighbors' dogs came out for their evening toilet. How many times have I been out today and how many times have I seen them? I can only imagine what it must be like to have an older, fully house trained dog who doesn't have to go out every hour on the hour. (Although, to be fair, my puppy did manage to sleep for nearly three hours straight this afternoon, so, there, I had a break.) Our neighbors' dogs were both rescues, the older of whom spent the first four years of her life as a puppy manufacturer for a puppy mill. I've been mulling over a post on what it is like watching my ever-so-privileged breeder-raised puppy interacting with dogs who never had the chance to learn to play, but my head is too sore for that at the moment. Suffice it to say, I'm torn.

Back inside, more caramels for energy, an hour or less spent looking over the data for the talk that I'm supposed to give, and I'm forced to admit that I simply can't concentrate well enough despite, yet again, having a puppy snuggled at my feet. Not to mention that the carpenter who is making a new top for our dining room table called to schedule when he is going to come tomorrow. It certainly doesn't help that my son is now playing the theme for Hawaii 5-0 on his laptop and feeding me tidbits about how easy it is to find our address via Google search. What am I going to do for Wednesday? Ah, the phone is ringing. It's my husband, asking if the puppy needs to go out.

*And, no, the kitchen is not finished. We still have three weeks to wait for the cabinets and then the countertop and tiles to go after that. It's like Groundhog Day: six more weeks of remodeling, if we're lucky.


  1. "arguing for a good half hour about the design for the shelving".

    Would you say "arguing"? Felt more like a discussion to me.


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