Thursday, March 31, 2016

Pups & Poems

In the fall of 2014 I participated as a student and a community TA in  an edX massive open online course (MOOC) called The Art of Poetry. The two month course taught by former poet laureate Robert Pinsky was extremely demanding and extremely rewarding. The course is being given again (registration began March 29th) and I considered taking it again. The prospect of immersing myself in poetry for several months seemed enticing. I also imagined studying great poets would, as often happens, spark my own writing. Then I realized taking the course was out of the question. It was out of the question for one reason - I have a new puppy. It seems ungracious of me to blame a cuter-than-cute puppy for not continuing my studies and accomplishing at least a modicum of creative writing but a close look at the facts reveals the awful truth - the only writing I've done in the months since the puppy has been rent checks and bill payments. I wasn't dazzlingly productive before the puppy but I was writing.

I'd simply forgotten how much work training a puppy involves. As I've mentioned elsewhere, I am at that awkward age between older woman and death. Still, I wanted more than watching PBS and sipping cinnamon tea. I wanted a funny, friendly, petite pal.

I have abandoned my higher self - reading, writing, and more reading - to play with squeaky toy ducks, raccoons, squirrels, and foxes.

Puppy or scapegoat?
Years ago, I taught something called "Business English," appropriately enough, in a business college. Marking exam papers was tedious and as I was unsure of exactly what Business English was, I showed videos of Shakespeare's plays to my students. Shakespeare was a good businessman. In theaters, pieces of glow tape are used to mark where actors tiptoe onto dark stages. I know from grade B movies "the mark" is the intended victim of a confidence man. And there was that something on Cain's forehead. Who knew marking is also a four pound Maltese lifting his snow white hind leg to sprinkle yellow on the corner of pieces of furniture in the living room. On the plus side, from the day he arrived, Darby has slept through the night, even when teething. Apparently, like me, he realizes the importance of a good night's sleep for one's looks and disposition. And he has the sweetest disposition of any pet, feline or canine, that I've had the privilege of sharing my days with. Yes, it's okay to end a sentence with a preposition although I'm not sure Shakespeare did.

I read somewhere that we love our dogs because they show us who we really are. I find this warming and true. I'm playing fetch and tug-of-war with my puppy when I'd rather be reading poetry and my husband Victor is wrapping and freezing small amounts of chicken for Darby so his food always smells fresh when Victor would rather be reading the newspapers.

Instead of writing, I'm training my puppy and playing with the little chap. I tell myself my creative impulse is hibernating somewhere in my psyche and, when Darby is older, new poems will spring forward. In the meanwhile, can any of you recommend a pet odor remover that actually works?

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