Dear Goddamned Beagle,
It has been a while, I know. A very long while. There is a word in human, “umwelt,” that means “the world as it is experienced by a particular organism.” Our back yard, for instance, to an earthworm looks like an endless expanse of dark earth; to you looks like a faded army-green field of potential rabbit pursuit and squirrel pizza detritus (and dirt to dig and eat – your Tennessee really shows up in that yard, dog, I swear to god); and to me it looks like a satisfying-if-violently green, artificially-grassed city oasis with a litigious tangle of hose at the bottom of the stairs leading to my armored vegetable garden. If I could electrify that thing I would, beagle. The umwelt of the squirrels, skunks, raccoons, rats, and birds regarding our yard is apparently a Walmart with a “Free Samples” sign over it.
Anyway, since I last wrote a few things have transpired in our world and the world at large. Notably, there has been a pandemic. Apparently a bunch of dogs who were sick of being left alone all day got together and created a virus and released it. They were clever enough to create and release a virus but didn’t have the foresight to realize the damage they’d do, so a lot of bad things happened, and the rest of the literal world came to a weird combination of grinding halt and frenzied chaos. This will be known in human history books as the “Baking Age,” which, like the Iron Age, has legs and will last for millennia, should anything other than the fake grass in our yard actually last that long.
Somehow your grandfather survived all this. He needed emergency abdominal surgery that would have felled a 40-year-old, in a teaching hospital, during the first summer of the pandemic in August when all the medical students who’d been learning on Etch-A-Sketches were suddenly presented with “meat humans” and told to give it a go. A year later he got COVID, survived that, and then got another virus three months later, and then pneumonia three months after that. Yet he remains to drop food at the table and continue your symbiotic old-man-nap-support/beagle-TV-remote-rest relationship.
I unfortunately also kept the medical community busy. After years of ever-increasing vertigo, migraines, and other fun things, I apparently decided being upright and conscious was for suckers. While I have only scattered memory of it, I was whisked to the hospital in such a state that although I was taken from my home, I was given a “no name” admission in case there was no time for formalities and I needed to be rushed to whatever. I was renamed Coral Unknownmmm, which wasn’t bad, I later thought. Way better than, say, Shrub Commonmmm, or Kelp Invasivemmm.
Now, I’d been sent to numerous neurologists previous to this event. Neurologists, beagle, are doctors who like to say things like, “Have you tried not being a female?” and “Why are you eating?” and “We recommend you eliminate all joy from your life, and if you don’t we’ll blame you for your pain.” As you can imagine, they are a highly paid specialty.
For my particular troubles, they all prescribe Xanax, a drug your Swissy sister Addie used to take when thunder terrorists were in the sky. As soon as that drug is prescribed to dogs, veterinarians ask if it’s helping. As soon as that drug is prescribed to people like me, doctors put “anxiety” on your chart, and then all your symptoms are chalked up to that, and the next recommendation is therapy and something called “meditation,” a human practice wherein long amounts of time are spent in quiet contemplation of ways to dispose of a body.
We eventually found a neurologist who described all of my symptoms perfectly, told me what to do about them, including twice-weekly brain and eye therapies for the foreseeable future, and prescribed Actually Helpful Drugs, none of which was Xanax. He told me that because I’d had this building for roughly 5 years it would take some time to get back to as close to better as I might get, and asked me why I’d taken so long to see him. I understood this to be a legally necessary statement proving his board certification as a neurologist; without driving the patient to that level of rage, he might have just been a sharp, helpful general practitioner.
So much more has taken place. House renovations, family disasters, gardening sabotage, manic cooking forays, job changes, the Invasion of the Turkeys. New York. Africa. Rabbits. the Collapsing of the Cape House, Thomas. Allergy drops and diet changes.
The reason I tell you about umwelt is that while all this and much more has been going on, your view from the blankets has remained the same regardless of what the rest of the planet was doing. I was reminded of how remiss I’ve been by a friend of ours named Betsy. We owe her a thank you. While you’re allowed to duck and cover and wait for food, I really need to do better.
I’m sure you’d do the same if you had thumbs, Beagle. Now there’s a scary thought.