Being Dog’s Best Friend

When I was 21, I spent five months living in India. It was only the second foreign country I had ever been to, and the first was Australia, which didn’t really prepare me for what I was about to encounter. The conditions people existed in—both their own physical bodies and the environment around them—were horrific. People had all manner of rashes, diseases, infections, open wounds, and missing limbs. They lived six people to a single room or two people to a single patch of sidewalk. They were dirty and hungry and desperate. Every time I would walk down the street to run a simple errand or go somewhere, people would touch my light hair or my pale skin, or tug at my clothes and ask if I could help them. It was a shocking but crucial formative experience in my development as a compassionate human being and a critical thinker. Continue reading →

Struggles of the Wannabe Grammar Police

On my neighborhood Nextdoor site, I recently saw a post about a lost dog that was found. In response, one person wrote, “Glad this tale/tail has a happy ending.” I started to roll my eyes at her seemingly unnecessary decision to clarify that she was making a pun, but then I stopped. The truth is, I can easily put myself inside her mind. I’m constantly making calculations in my head about whether I should speak “correctly” or speak like most people around me do.  Continue reading →

Sanctuary 2.0: It’s Never Too Late

I could have called this post Christmas miracles, but that would be hyperbolic and hokey. I mean, it’s not like I found a Daisy Red Ryder BB Gun under my non-existent Christmas tree this morning. However, two unexpected events at the Little House on the Prairie have really made this month even lovelier than planned.

You can teach an old dog new tricks. (Unknown, modified)

Trotsky Bear—my jealous, protective, and vicious beast—has been spending a lot of time with another dog lately and hasn’t mauled him yet. In fact, they play together. Play! Trotsky doesn’t play with other dogs. At the off-leash park, he prefers to spend his time sniffing around the perimeter, and if another dog invades his space for more than 20 seconds, Trotsky usually starts to growl. But he and Stuff are almost buds. They stay in separate rooms most of the time, thanks to a chair-icade we’ve constructed, but walk together twice a day and enjoying chasing each other around and tumbling on the ground. At least once a day, they lounge several feet from each other, but only when Stuff is firmly rooted to the sofa, behind protective human arms and legs, just in case. A massive cuddle pile on the bed together will likely prove too much too soon for this visit, but there’s hope for a lasting doggie friendship here.   Continue reading →

Say What? Edition 4: Thoughts From Italy

A collection of random linguistically-related thoughts that popped into my head while in Italy four weeks ago.

********************

Language can provide anonymity in a crowd. One of my biggest linguistic pleasures when in Europe is hearing half a dozen languages spoken around me at any one time. I enjoy it partly because you feel a buzz, an energy around you, without having comprehension interfere with your own thoughts. But also, there’s a certain anonymity in being in a multilingual place. I could be anyone. Of any nationality. In any life situation. No one knows a thing about me until I speak. This makes me feel exciting and mysterious. Continue reading →

Italy by Number

I have so many thoughts to share stemming from my two and a half weeks in Europe. My route was
Flight to Zurich→
Train to Innsbruck→
Car share to Bressanone→
On foot across the Dolomites to Cortina d’Ampezzo→
Bus to Venice→
Rental car to Padua→Verona→Bergamo→Milan→
Train and kayak to Bellagio→
Car share to Zurich
with a lot of little stops in between. Everything I saw was stimulating and new, and I took dozens and dozens of pages of notes. Since most of that time was spent in northern Italy, let’s kick off the onslaught of upcoming blog posts with a lighthearted comparison of Italy and Boulder. Continue reading →