“When were you most happy?”


“When were you least happy?”


“What do you love?”

“What do I love?”

“Say everything.”

— The English Patient

Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law. Late-night open threads at Eschaton. My ferrets chasing each other. My baby sister, K., so funny and impulsive and artlessly lovely. Warm Sunday mornings on the back porch that’s so narrow I have to sit in the chair and prop my feet up on the rail, the papers flying all over, a hot cup of coffee on the table. Mark Helprin’s “Winter’s Tale.” The sight of the city skyline as I’m driving down the Eisenhower; God, that never gets old. Magnificent churches in crumbling neighborhoods. Secondhand smoke. Two dollar beers at Centennial Lanes on election night. A fresh stack of stationery and a really sharp pen. Black ink. My brother, who had a sword custom-made in Scotland and shipped over here because, well, he wanted a sword is all. Firefly. My friend Paige’s son Jeremy, who’s one and a half and excited by damn near everything about the world. Arguments that last all night. The sound of friends talking in my living room while I’m cleaining up the kitchen. My next door neighbor singing. Feeding the sick little furballs at the animal shelter. Kicking some ass at work. Watching my co-workers kick some ass at work. Twenty-seven e-mails from Sparky in one afternoon. Pokemon jokes. Los Cazadores chicken enchiladas con mole and peach-mango margaritas. Italian martinis, cheap red wine, vodka tonics on hot days, Irish coffee on cold ones. Lemonade. Heavy blankets in the fall. Silk slips. The seventeenth minute of my workouts. An A-line black skirt. The way my mom smiles when she catches someone looking at her. The way my favorite aunt says her husband’s name, one drawn-out half-plea, “Steeeevvvennn!” The fish tank in my father’s tool room when I was little, the red-tailed shark that was my particular pet. Reading. Writing. Time disappearing. Sleeping in. Matthew Ryan’s voice, Leonard Cohen’s lyrics, Neil Young’s guitar. Bike rides through Columbus Park as old men fish in the lagoon. The grocery store clerk, pointing out a broken egg in a dozen, saying, “Yo’ eggs is fucked up.” Live from Baghdad. The adhan. Black high heels. Trying to learn to swing-dance from a tape in our living room a week before the wedding, bumping into the couch. Flowers from the Heartland. Robert Lindsay. C.S. Forrester. E.M. Forster. Emma Thompson. Anglophilia. Henry V. Milla Jovovich as Joan of Arc. Jeremy Brett as Sherlock Holmes. Thank-you notes. Pictures of all the places my husband and I have ever traveled. Really good West Wing fanfic that does crazy things with tenses and twists words like silly putty and makes me want to be a writer again. Blogs. Bloggers. Blog commenters who make dry government hearings seem like cybersex. Idiot flamers. Buttwipes who look up IP registries and call blog commenters at home and harass them. Fourth of July parades. Expense checks. My friend Meg, friends since we were eight, this funny, funny girl who’s fighting MS with everything she has and winning right now. My grandmother, who left home at 19 to study nursing in Chicago and lived in a rooming house with girls from across the country and stepped over drunks to get to the hospital but who did it anyway and is still the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen, still, at 86 years old, she’s stunning. My bookshelves. The books on them. This web site. Air conditioning. The Buzz Caf. Sales. Making pasta sauce from scratch. Walking through leaves. Packer games. Hockey. Goalies: Graham Melanson and Bernd Bruckler. A sign at the Wisconsin-Minnesota game that pictured a gopher getting stomped by a badger and the dad who proudly said that his kid, who couldn’t have been five, had spent all day making it. My betas, Antonia, Tara and Tony, without whose services my fanfiction would have been strangled in its cradle. Hats. Unexpected contact, out of the blue, from people long gone. Margaret. Amy. Vince. Scott. Alice. Jonathan. Brent. Megan. Kristen. Jennifer. Adam. Stevie. Sean. Beth. Little Lily 1 and 2. Photos, not yet in an album. Diets that sometimes work. Recovery. Condensation on a cold glass. The place under the bookcase where the squirrels stash things. Cooking classes. Candles. The Daily Show. Josephine, my old car. Christmas: trees, cookies, wreaths, presents, wassailing, carolers, parties. Archibald MacLeish’s magnificent, masculine poetry. Whipped cream.

Next week, things I hate.

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