Friday, July 29, 2016

Accidental Adoption

I was walking Roxy along the cobblestone sidewalk in Kendall Square during a much-needed late lunch break when the inevitable happened.  I adopted a child. My friend Ann, a long-ago graduate of MIT’s Linguistics Department, had been on my mind, and the all-American curly-haired blond teen who approached me reminded me of her son, Galen.  Despite Roxy’s insistent pulling at the other end of the leash (she was just feet from an overflowing trash container), I made eye contact with the young man.  He began his well-practiced spiel, quickly acknowledging that I was obviously a person who cares about the thousands of children who die of starvation each day, shrugging his shoulders every once in a while for emphasis, as if to say, “No brainer, right?”

My sponsored child, courtesy of ChildFund International, inspired by Maya Angelou (it said so on the card) would be a young female named Rajani. Rajani lives in India. She has dark, almost black, eyes and hair, a choppy boy’s haircut bearing a strange resemblance to my childhood pixie cut, and the barest hint of a smile. Purple ruffles were superimposed below her neck in the photo, presumably to underscore that she is indeed female.  I looked over at Roxy’s pleading stare, a Cocker Spaniel trait, and thought about how Laura and I have a deal that we will never spend money over the phone, by mail, etc.,(although we never specifically discussed on the street) from a solicitor without checking in with one another.  This is not a trust issue – it is an issue of two women with big hearts and long fingers reaching down deep into their well-worn wallets.  

Finally convinced this was legitimate, I gave my bankcard information to the young man and walked away with Rajani’s paperwork, reminding myself that I didn’t have to adopt her completely.  Even if I didn’t continue paying thirty-three dollars per month, the money I had just donated would go toward something she needed. Laura would surely forgive thirty-three dollars for a young girl in need.

I crossed the street toward the MIT Coop, eyeing a shady spot on the grassy mound in the center of the Wednesday Farmer’s Market, and felt again some strong resistance from Roxy. I turned to see her short stub wagging as she sniffed a small white Shih Tzu with dirty paws and a face in need of a warm, wet cleaning. She has not always been good with smaller dogs, but has mellowed in her old age. “His name is Prince,” the girl holding the Shih Tzu’s leash said, speaking and moving with slow deliberation. The dog’s tousled hair was standing up in the center of his head, and he resembled the young woman, who had a thick cluster of braids standing straight up in the center of her head, flaring outward like perfectly cooked asparagus at the edges of the wide band that held it all. I commented that her hair matched her dog’s, and she seemed pleased at the concept, as if she had never before considered the resemblance. Roxy has gently curling hair on her ears that resembles Laura’s hair on a good day, though her brownish-gold hair coloring and brown eyes are like mine. Yes, there is often a resemblance between pets and their owners.

Roxy and I found a cool spot under the trees, and I put the ChildFund booklet under me to protect my white pants on the grass. It’s been a long time since I played in the grass, but I assumed it still stains white clothing. I took a deep breath to settle myself as Roxy sniffed the grass where someone had no doubt once upon a time dropped food. Then I heard a familiar voice and turned around to see the Shih Tzu and the young woman.  She wore dark jeans and made the bold decision to sit directly on the grass.

“I know your dog’s name, but what’s yours?” I finally asked, figuring she must want to talk, since she was staring at Roxy and me.  “Kanji” she said, and I’m sure I’m spelling it wrong, but that’s what it sounded like phonetically. “I’m Nigerian and African-American,” she said. 

I remembered my goal when I was in my mid-thirties to plan a trip somewhere out of my comfort zone, somewhere breathtaking. After spending many nights with a large globe in my lap, I finally admitted my outrageous dream – to go to Africa on an animal safari.  I ended up planning a two-week trip a few years later to Tanzania with my friend Cindy, who had spent time in western Africa with the Peace Corps.  I told some of the story to Kanji. “It took a lot of my savings, but it was a highlight of my life,” I said, realizing it had been almost twenty-five years since I took that trip. 

“I would like to go to Nigeria one day.  My brother wants us to go and visit there,” she said. She had striking features, and a gentle, soft way about her. 

“Why not practice saying, ‘I will go to Nigeria one day,’” I suggested.

A smile gradually stretched across her face as she looked to the side and pondered the concept. “I will go to Nigeria one day,” she said, looking back at me with bright eyes.

“Are you a student in the area?” I asked.

“No, I’m not a student.  In fact, I’m unemployed.”

“What kind of job are you looking for?”

“I don’t know, but I made a first step and talked with someone who can help place me.  I’m waiting to hear,” she said.  And after a pause, “I actually love writing. I want to be a writer.”

“I can help you with that if you’re interested,” I said, and I gave her my card. “It helps to read the writings of others. I suggest that you read something of mine, or anything someone else has written, and tell me how the story makes you think about something in your own life, and we can start a correspondence.  I tutored many people your age when I was working on my graduate degree.”  I didn’t tell her that I quit before finishing my master’s in psych counseling when the focus shifted to kids. I would have wanted to take them all home. Not just the kids, but all of the troubled people who would confide in me. I would be too sensitive for that work.

We chatted a little more, and then it was time for Roxy and me to get back to MIT.  “Thank you” she said, taking my hand and shaking it firmly, smiling again.

They say things happen in threes.  I felt today that I had three adoptees – Rajani, Ganji, and our beautiful Roxy, whom we met thirteen years ago at just over a year old. We had gone to the vet to have our two cats checked out, with no plan to adopt a dog.  But then we saw her immense brown eyes peering back at us through a matt of dirty brown hair, waiting to be seen by two big-hearted women. 

I was sure that Laura would forgive my accidental adoption, and maybe we would even do it for an entire year. No brainer, right?  

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Rage, Bad Religion, and LSD

My son Jay tries to keep Laura and me high on the “knowledge of cool music” scale. Since the night the floor manager sneaked my friend and me into the last half of a Beastie Boys concert I had driven Jay and a friend to when he was fourteen, music has been one of the ways we’ve bonded. Jay updates us on the best, newest, and sometimes older and much-loved musicians and their songs.  Otherwise, I may be stuck forever in the 60’s, with Joan Baez, Joni Mitchell, Dylan, and James Taylor.  There are worse things.

So when he handed us an envelope on Christmas morning, 2015, we had an idea that it might contain two tickets to see a band. For the two previous Christmases, he had given us tickets to attend a standing room only performance of - I have to admit – a fabulous young band called Lake Street Dive – Laura and I call them LSD for short.  We opened the envelope, and voila.  LSD, again.  “Listen, go in and stand right in front of the sound guy.  The sound is best in that spot, and you can lean against the railing.  Plant yourself there, and don’t move,” he said with his usual in-the-know enthusiasm.  The following March we headed for the show, planning to do what we were told. We navigated the Boston traffic and parked where he instructed us, and walked to the House of Blues where we queued up in a long line with a bunch of twenty-, thirty-, and even some forty-somethings. When we reached the venue, I was asked by a middle-aged security guard to open my purse.  I unzipped the center pocket, exposing a small metal pill case. 

“I assume you have some hard core pills in there,” he joked. 

“Yes, they’re for my blood pressure. Would you like to buy a couple?” I said. He sort of chuckled (or was it a gasp?) and waved me through. Had he asked me for an ID, I would have opened my shirt collar to expose my aging neck. The things I find I can get away with – or just think about getting away with - now that I’ve had my 60th birthday.

Let me back up and take a slight, but related tangent.

I don’t remember the exact moment when I realized that being Noam Chomsky’s gatekeeper could at times feel magical. Recognition of my “people will offer me free things” superpower was concurrent with my sudden awareness of the political savvy of a good number of well-known punk and hard rock musicians who were contacting our office.  I say well-known because I had become familiar with their names through Jay. I remember being impressed by a letter from Noam to Jello Biafra when it landed on my desk in 1995, just over a year after I started working for Noam, thanking him for a packet of tapes he had sent to our office.

Many thanks for the tapes, which I’ll be listening to…though to be honest, I have to say that finding a moment to listen to tapes is a luxury I rarely have, Noam wrote.  (In other words, ‘There's not always room for someone named Jello’.) It would have further confused him to learn that Jello Biafra was founding member of a political punk band called “The Dead Kennedys.”  Never mind.

Once I recognized this superpower, I learned to keep my ears and mind open.  Jay moved to Colorado after college, in May of 1996, and soon after, I intercepted an email from Greg Graffin, co-founder, lead singer and songwriter for the band Bad Religion. In a subsequent phone conversation, I learned it was Greg’s dream to meet Noam, and after a few minutes of investigative correspondence (meaning I stayed on the phone with Greg as long as possible in order to impress my son with details), I mentioned the fact that my son lived in the Denver area. Greg said he would be sure to send him two tickets to the band’s upcoming concert at the Paramount Theater, and back stage passes. I pinched myself to be sure I was awake. I also learned from Greg that Noam’s political commentary had been recorded as a single by Bad Religion in 1991. 

When I talked with Noam later that day, he accepted Greg’s request to have a future “dialogue” (as he called it) when Greg was able to take a break from his doctoral studies. “And I think we have copies of that record around here somewhere,” Noam said.” I got him settled into his next interview and went off to the nearby locked space that we referred to as “Noam’s library” -- a huge, treasure-trove of a room in the old Building 20, filled with a collection of Noam’s favorite books -- many of them now valuable collectors items -- his bibliography, periodicals, reprints, and drafts of political and linguistics book chapters, which spilled from shelves or peeked out from cardboard boxes on the floor.  Walls of file cabinets were filled with correspondence, Noam’s articles and interviews, and other people’s articles, so I started looking in the boxes on the floor, returning briefly once or twice that week, and then the next, when I finally reached into one dusty box and all but danced a jig when I found a half dozen copies of the 7” vinyl record titled, “New World Order: War #1.” Find it here
As Noam signed a few of them for me later that week, he asked, “What are these?” His focus had obviously shifted since our conversation a few weeks before, and I was coming to know the glazed-over look that often followed anything longer than a brief explanation, so I kept it short, and moved on.

Guitarist Tom Morello, former Rage Against the Machine band member, is a surprising cross-over between my son and me.  Tom came into focus for me in 1996 as well, when he emailed me to ask whether I thought Noam would agree to an interview to be aired as a National Radio Broadcast.  (Tom was later prominent on Pete Seeger’s 90th birthday celebration cd, which was sent to me by one of Seeger's assistants.  I loved Seeger, but Jay had no interest in his music.)  Of course I pushed the interview, knowing how politically active Tom was, and ahem, also knowing my son would be impressed. And I was determined to get Noam and his politics to be a part of more household conversations.

A few years later, in 2000, I wrote to another Rage Against the Machine member, Zack de la Rocha, the band's former front man, singer, and songwriter, “Professor Chomsky has agreed to an interview with you… and I hope you don’t mind, but I would like to ask you a favor. My son has been following Rage for a long time, and he would love to meet you when you’re here.” Knowing myself, it’s possible that I jokingly told him he could interview Noam only if he agreed to talk with Jay, though I wouldn’t swear to it in a court of law.

It thrilled me when Zack, who was just a few years older than Jay, readily agreed. One more notch on my “Cool mother” belt, on the shoulders of Noam Chomsky. Mea culpa. I was a repeat offender, but ask any mother how far she would go to add a notch to that belt, and you will find forgiveness.

Graphic designer Brad K. approached me in 2003 to ask me to convince Noam to have his likeness printed on the underside of a promotional skateboard deck for a series he was doing for the band Pearl Jam called “American Heroes.” I convinced Noam that his oldest grandson would be impressed, noting of course that my son thought Pearl Jam was an intelligent and increasingly political band.  In fact, Noam had recently written an article for Pearl Jam’s “The Manual For Free Living” newsletter. When I told Brad that Noam was fine with this, he arranged to send me a publicity package including the finished decks for Jay, me, and Noam’s grandson.  Yes, please.

For more than twenty years Jay and I have had the conversation about how to get Noam to realize that popular bands provide an opportunity for him to get his message out in large numbers to younger people.  As I write this, I realize he always has “gotten” it, especially as I stand back and see how many bands he agreed to interview with and write for, even before my enthusiasm helped sway his decisions in the mid 90’s, and for years after that.

Back to the present.

As the venue filled in anticipation of LSD’s performance, the space in front of us grew more crowded with young, tall people threatening our view.  For almost four hours, from the time the doors opened until LSD was winding down, we did as my son advised, leaving our post only once each to use the bathroom. It was a truly great show, but the railing was too flimsy to lean against, and we felt the burn walking back to the car after standing for so long in one spot. Next year I’m going to drop some hints to Jay about surprising us with tickets to an old-fart performance, like Joan Baez or James Taylor.  Actually, I really don’t care who they are, as long as the venue has seats.  Unless I develop another superpower – the ability to turn the clock back a few decades.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Two fun links

Here are two recent links that I found interesting.

Noam talks about his 8th grade teacher, and how she affected his way of looking at life and learning. Interview with Bob Greenberg, March, 2016.

(Mine was Mrs. Czarnowski, writing teacher jr year at Waltham High.  By the time I thought to send her a note, she had passed away.  Is there a teacher somewhere you should write to?)  I dedicate this one to Mrs. Czarnowski, and also to Charles W. Gimby (aka Dad29), who has received lots of letters and calls from old students through the years.

Chomsky on his most-remembered teacher.

And in case you didn't know it already (Thank you, Foy Vance...):

(I just have to say - I still like RAGE and Bad Religion - coming up soon in my next blog post.)

Chomsky is a Soft Revolution...!

I'll be returning with a new post in April!


Wednesday, February 24, 2016


I was startled to hear Noam’s voice over my right shoulder.

“Hey! Look at that!” he said, his eyes intent on my keyboard.

His tone and excitement alarmed me, and I pulled my fingers from the home row keys as if a hairy twenty-six-legged creature with probing antennae was crawling toward my wrist.

“What?” I yelled out, looking down at my hands. “My nail polish? I know, I never wear nail polish,” I said, curling my fingers inward to hide the worn spots on my nails. I heard my mother’s voice telling me, “You know, it wouldn’t hurt you to spruce yourself up once in a while.” I have to admit that I feel better when I wear a new sweater, or spend extra time on my hair, and I always secretly thank her for her well-intended ‘encouragement.’ Having said that, the one and only time I wore a skirt and heels to the office, Noam, who dresses in jeans and sneakers every day, asked with concern, “Are you going on a job interview?”

When I looked up again I saw that Noam was shaking his head. “No, all of your keys are labeled!” he said, pointing his index finger at my keyboard.

“Uhmm, what… what are you saying?” I asked.

“The letters on my keys have all rubbed off!” he said, cocking his head and laughing. 

My mind’s eye lit up with images of Noam’s hunched body, hands hammering away on thesis drafts, letters to the editor, articles, statements of solidarity, petitions, professional correspondence, recommendation letters, arguments, lectures, and email, for decades, on countless keyboards. First manual and electric typewriters, then word processors and progressively streamlined and ergonomically correct wireless keyboards, all the way to the present-time smaller keys of his compact laptop. I imagined tiny white specs of metal, paint and plastic embedding themselves beneath his fingernails, or flying off and landing in his eyebrows and the waves of his graying hair until only hints of letters, like the small upper crescent of the O, and the right most tip of the T, remained. I saw him him striking the S with spectacular speed while writing his earliest drafts of Syntactic Structures. I envisioned each subsequent keyboard wailing and heaving as the refractory R succumbed to his repetitive rage against the machine, leaving this last keyboard black and bleak.

But then again, the letters may have disappeared an entire word at a time: morphophonemics, language, terrorism, thought, mind, media…there are endless possibilities. Or they vanished in long sentences: yawning colorless green ideas tumbling half-awake to his office floor and clinging statically to his slippers, trailing behind him as he navigated his overflowing office. In still another scenario, I could imagine keyboard neighbors “o” and “i” holding hands and jumping ship together, wearing only a diphthong. Or is it possible that his most-quoted phrases, in a show of solidarity, leapt to guide him steadily between rising stacks of journals, photos, old and priceless carbon copies and annotated manuscripts?  Did they level his locomotion as he shuffled through that perpetually narrowing pathway between desk and printer until the floor’s polished sheen gave way to bare, creaky wood?

Noam rolled a chair next to mine to review the week’s schedule, but I was too distracted by the word “censored” floating from behind his square eyeglass lenses up to his creased brow to notice the strange tone of his voice. Then he hiccupped a partly-formed paragraph that jettisoned under my desk, landing on Roxy’s back where she slept, snoring.  No harm done. I reached down and managed to pinch an entire sentence between my index finger and thumb. It struggled erratically, biting at my nails, and finally relaxed and stretched into its gravitational pull. I apologized to Noam for reading his mind, and read it aloud:

The general population doesn’t know what’s happening, and it doesn’t even know that it doesn’t know.

I inhaled deeply, shook myself free from my reverie and said, “I’ll get you a new keyboard tomorrow.”

Noam is losing his letters.  I am losing my mind. And the nail polish.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

The Observer

Sorry for being a no-show for a few months!  I was busy writing an article for the Observer section of the Chronicle of Higher Education.  Though my blog address was linked to the article, how would my blog readers who were not familiar with The Chronicle know I had written the piece? So here’s the link, below, to “What It’s Like to Be Noam Chomsky’s Assistant.”  Not my title choice…and it's called "Chomsky and Me" in the print version.

I will be back soon with more blog posts – I promise!  It took me a while to recover from this one…


Sunday, October 11, 2015

Time Out

Traveling up to my office from the basement parking garage on a rainy early October morning, the elevator stopped on the first floor, and a young man got in.  He looked slightly familiar, but I couldn’t place him. More noteworthy, he was soaking wet and barefoot, and held his rather stylish sneakers in one hand.  He hit the number nine on the elevator control panel, one floor up from my eighth floor office, and I figured he must be one of our students at Linguistics & Philosophy.

I looked over at him and asked, straight faced, “Did you swim here?”

“No, actually, I ran all the way here from my apartment,” he said, an equally serious expression on his face.

“You don’t have an umbrella?” I asked.

“You can’t run with an umbrella,” he said.

Despite his standing in the Stata Center elevator in his bare feet, his manner was sober during our repartee, so the ironic humor of his statement took me by surprise. I studied him briefly, not quite knowing what to make of him. “I like your spirit,” I said.

He was a good looking guy.  In fact, I think our department has a larger number of classically good looking students than most, in my opinion.  I’m not sure why that is.

“I’m definitely going to have to write about you on my blog,” I warned him.

“Then I will have to read your blog,” he said.

“It might take me a couple of months to post this, since I write stories and not just daily stuff.”

“A couple of months?” he asked, sounding appalled.

Once again I heard the voice of my bff Deb, my muse and sometimes editor telling me that I should post more often, at least once a week, even if it’s just a sentence or a paragraph.  I suppose she was right.

“I’ll try to get to it sooner,” I promised him.

The elevator door opened, and I got out, turning around to ask him his name.

“Brad.  Skow,” he said.  I had certainly heard of Brad.  He was a philosophy professor in our department.

I should venture out of my office more often.  But I’m going to give myself a break here, because, to be fair, I had never seen Brad Skow soaking wet.

Back at my office, I looked him up on the department’s web site, and learned that Brad is a philosophy professor who studies Time – he questions whether time actually passes.  When I read this, I couldn’t help thinking, “If time doesn’t really pass, then what’s the big deal about waiting two months for me to post a story on my blog?”

I have spent many mind-twisting hours listening to Noam’s discussions with faculty and students as they tried to answer the questions, “What is thought” and “What is the mind” (“Don’t Mind Me”), and now I also have to be freaked out about time passing? In fact, when Laura and I watched the recent lunar eclipse with our friends Linda and Gary from the comfort of our heated outdoor swim spa, I have to admit to dipping my head under the water a few times during their discussion about the awesomely immense and mind-boggling infinity of the universe.

My second thought about Brad was, “We need more professors like him, to show students that life doesn’t have to be all about academics and seriousness and studies, but that it can also be about fun.”

But then I thought, "Wait a minute, I have seen strange and fun and out of the ordinary things at MIT, at the hands of both students and professors since my brother Paul began his undergrad studies in 1974, so why am I having this reaction?  Why am I so relieved and pleased to see one of our professors wet and barefoot in an elevator?"

To be continued...

Monday, June 8, 2015

Full Circle

It had been an exhausting few days, but there was nothing more we could do for Roxy at the moment, so I forced myself to get back into my car, leaving Laura at home to rest. 

Our friend Gail Rundlett, who performed at our wedding the previous August, was hosting a concert in honor of activist-singer-songwriter Pete Seeger, along with folks from Arlington’s United for Justice with Peace (UJP). Almost half a dozen years earlier, Thea Paneth and other UJP members generously took turns delivering cooked meals to the Chomsky home when Carol was ill.  Noam was beyond grateful, but those visits ended when Carol’s eating became more sporadic, and the family gathered and prepared to quiet the house for Carol’s leaving.

Just a couple of months before her death, when Carol was more engaged and alert, Pete Seeger’s assistant had contacted our office.

“Pete is a big fan of Noam’s, and he would be honored to have a conversation with him,” she said. It always tickles me when well-known people put a meeting with Noam on their wish list – Peter Coyote, Wallace Shawn, and Danny Glover; members of The Dead Kennedys, Bad Religion, and Rage Against the Machine; and leaders such as Haiti’s Laurent Lamothe, Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez, and Fidel Castro. Some plan for years to meet with him for even fifteen minutes, and yet my dog, Roxy, has been able to wander in and out of his office since I started bringing her to work eleven years ago. To add to the irony, Roxy isn’t the least bit impressed by Noam’s accomplishments – she is interested only in finding scraps of food he might have thrown away or dropped near his desk. 

I arranged for Pete to call our office before ringing Noam’s house, so I could first check that Carol was having a good enough day to talk, and of course my secret agenda in setting it up this way was to be able to say hello to Pete myself.  (Mea culpa.) Once I gave the green light, Pete would call Noam’s home to chat for a few minutes, and then he would sing a couple of songs for Carol.

When Pete called on the arranged day, I told him I was a big fan, and I asked him what it was like to be blacklisted from singing for more than a decade.  He replied that he was at least able to sing on some smaller stages, and for friends. We talked for a minute or two, then, quite unexpectedly, he sang “Circles” to me, a song he was planning to sing to Carol. Pete Seeger was on the other end of the phone, singing to me, just to me.  It took me a while later in the day to figure out what droplets of water had smudged my to-do list.

                All my life’s a circle
                Still I wonder why
                Seasons spinning round again
                Years keep rolling by

                Seems like I’ve been here before
                I can’t remember when
                I got this funny feeling
                We’ll all be together again

I know we can’t turn back time, but what I would give to revisit that moment: Pete Seeger singing to me, and a younger, healthier Roxy snoozing comfortably on her cozy red and sheepskin bed under my desk.

I welcomed the idea of finding temporary peace in Pete Seeger’s songs at the concert, with our sweet pup in the kind hands of professionals, where a high fever, and a nefarious case of pancreatitis affecting her gall bladder and liver required hospitalization.  She hadn’t eaten much in almost a week, and we were staring down the possibility of ending her life.  Since she was otherwise very healthy, and there was a 50% chance she would make it through in a pain-free sleep, we agreed to treatment, though surgery of any kind was out of the question. If her body didn’t make a decision for us, we would seriously revisit her situation after two days.

Once inside the church, the music lulled me into the strange in-between state where one can experience a momentary moving away from heart-felt pain – a mother’s dying, the loss of a friend, the illness of a pet.  I enjoyed this much-needed emotional respite. 

During the break I had a chance to tell Thea how much Noam (and I) had appreciated the kindness of the UJP folks during Carol's illness, and I also thanked her for her unwavering efforts.  “I will never back down from my stand for peace. Not one inch,” she told me.

Gail’s was the last set, and her rendition of “Pack up your Sorrows” grabbed me by the throat and threatened to take my breath from me. Somehow, though, it also allowed me to begin to accept the fact that Roxy might die. I was feeling all of Elizabeth Kubler Ross's stages of grief at once - couldn't I have Roxy for one more year? Could I accept her end as I thought about her cocker spaniel eyes watching us leave, her body panting in discomfort in her cage? What was keeping me from jumping out of my seat and driving to the hospital to take her home?  I was beginning to find acceptance, but I was also angry.  This was supposed to have been a special week spent hiking and playing and enjoying time off for our birthdays – Laura’s, mine, and Roxy’s. 

I settled again and told myself that what was best for her right now was our staying away, to give her a chance to rest and heal. I know animals are different than humans – they live in the moment – food, squirrel, stick, ball - and probably don’t consider death at all. They certainly don’t worry about it.  Roxy would never choose to be hospitalized and on intravenous drips. Laura and I chose that for her. 

Gail’s words mirrored my thoughts:

Well, if somehow you could pack up your sorrows,
And give them all to me.
You would lose them, I know how to use them,
Give them all to me.

If I could have taken on her pain, I would have. This is more or less how Laura and I live our lives, maybe to a fault, and certainly how people like Pete Seeger, Noam Chomsky, Thea Paneth and the UJP group, and so many other revolutionaries choose to live theirs.

As I write this one month later, I’m happy to say that after barely two days in the hospital, Roxy decided to wake up, stand up, and put up a fight with the technician as she tried to take her blood pressure.  We packed her up and took her home, where we have just about nursed her back to her old, cheerful, energetic self. The day after we took her home from the hospital, she turned thirteen.