Very Well Then

Contradicting myself, always contradicting myself

Archive for February, 2009

You’re My Favorite Thing — The Dog Electric

Posted by verywellthen on February 25, 2009



There is nothing more boring than a person writing about their dog.    I own a dog.  That special thing between a human and a dog – I get it.  But I can’t stand reading or hearing owners go on about their little special one.  Even reading about it, you can hear the baby talk.  There are free magazines here in town dedicated to dog owners – I don’t pick them up, and I’m their target audience. 

So don’t read this.  No matter what I tell you, not about the five thousand miles of running we’ve done, not about the time I had to brush hundreds of yellow jackets off of her back,  not about how she barks at street lamps,  not about how her eyes will glance up at the top of the refrigerator where the dog treats are any time you pay her attention in the kitchen, not about that back-of-the-knee nook of my fetal sleep-position that she burrows into when she jumps up on the bed on cold winter mornings, not about how she barks at paragliders, not about the time she stepped on the power window button in the backseat of the car and when the window started rolling up on her neck she panicked and stepped even more firmly onto the window button, not about how she’s outright cruel to Takoda – her first dog friend – but submissive to every other dog on earth, not about the time I tied her up outside a store and came back to find her gone, not about how she barks at overhead tram cars,  not about her hound-dog howl, not about her fear of swimming, and for godsake not about her love of beaches or  snow or the woods or her focus on cats and squirrels…No matter what I tell you, you rightfully will dismiss it as the banal tripe that it is.

No matter how I tell it, it’s a boy and his dog story.  That’s all it can be. 


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A Winter Sound

Posted by verywellthen on February 25, 2009


Photo by Serge Arsenie

Photo by Serge Arsenie

Below is an excerpt of an email I wrote at least a dozen years ago, in the early days of the internets.  I stashed old mail messages on a floppy disk.  I was going through a few disks before throwing out the disks and before giving away the last computer that I’ll ever have with a floppy disk drive.  I found (and slightly edited) this excerpt to a friend who stayed behind in the old country — the Land Next To The Land of Sky Blue Waters — while I headed west, young man.



When you’re an old lady and if I’m living in an “easy” climate, send me a letter (or an email or whatever medium exists in those future days) every winter reminding me how harsh your winter is.  

You know what distinctive North Dakota sound I miss?    A week into one of those fuckin’ freezin’ cold spells the top layer of snow forms an inch thick layer the consistency of dry-wall, with dry, crystallized loose snow beneath.

 Walking over that snow late at night when everything else is quiet is a sound that still echoes deep in some crevasse of my brain, even all these years I’ve been away.  The breaking of the top layer is a percussive scrunch, followed by a feather-silent poof on the powder beneath.  It’s a sound deadened by the plasterboard snow all around.  And between each step, except for the wisps of  steamy breath and snorts of wet sniffles, there is not another sound in the world and your brain has nothing to do but echo those big scrunchy sounds around in your head until the next step comes along.  

I’ve walked through a lot of Western snow since then but never heard a sound quite like it.    Maybe you, as an old lady, could record that sound for me and send it, at attachment to your email.   I’ll hit the play button on my computer and a sound from my speakers will call a sound from the netherworld of my brain and the two will harmonize, like long separated friends reunited.  Then I will know that the internet has lived up to its promise.

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