Monday, November 9, 2009

NaBloPoMo: Newport by dog leash

Solnushka is the nom de blog of an English woman in her mid thirties who lives in London with her Muscovite husband and infant son. Her blog is the aptly named Verbosity, and making her acquaintance has been one of the many happy side effects of taking part in National Blog Posting Month. In order to avoid the repetitive "I did this" and "I did that" nature of autobiographical blog posts, she has adopted the narrative device of blogging in the second person. I find this technique fascinating, and I've decided to use this post to experiment with this narrative form.

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It's a bright, clear, mid-November day, a good fifteen degrees warmer than it has any right to be. There aren't going to be many more such days before winter closes in, so you want to get out there and enjoy it. And the best way to enjoy a bright, sunny day is while walking two basenjis.

Two basenjis on two retractable leashes keeps you on your toes. They don't seem to be aware that dogs are pack animals, and so you often find yourself splayed out, Christ-like, with one dog sixteen feet to your left and the other sixteen feet to your right and both of them urging you to follow them. Their never-ending quest for Unidentified Ground Objects causes them to pause to inspect every fallen leaf they encounter, just in case it turns out to be something edible. In a remarkable display of Lamarkian evolution, you have acquired the ability to keep one eyeball focused on each dog as the two of them move in random directions.

The gilded dome of Newport City Hall gleams in the sun as you follow the dogs down the sidewalk, avoiding the skateboarders who practice in front of Thompson Middle School. After ducking behind the bus stop and nosing around the front lawn of City Hall in case some drunken reveler from the night before has left behind a pizza crust or two, the dogs lead you across Broadway and behind the shops, just in case there are pizza crusts to be found there. From there, the dogs might lead you down Callender Street to the cemetery, or across the wide lawn in front of the Great Friends Meeting House and down to Marlborough Street. Either way, eventually you'll find yourself at Perrotti Park by the harbor. When the cruise liners anchor at Newport, Perrotti Park is where they let off their passengers. Sometimes they stop you and ask you what kind of dogs these are, and you explain to them that these are basenjis, the African barkless dogs. Dogs that don't bark, they ask you, and you explain that yes, these dogs do not bark, though they have been known to yodel.

After Perrotti Park, you usually stop in at the hotel where you work and say hello to your co-workers. The sight of you and your dogs is a familiar one, and the basenjis usually get a warm greeting, especially from Lisa in Human Resources, who absolutely adores them. From there, the dogs lead you to Queen Anne Square, where there are usually a couple other dogs being walked by other dog owners out to enjoy the unusually warm weather.

From Queen Anne Square the dogs lead you across a parking lot to Mary Street. The dogs love this parking lot because the man at the guard shack always gives them treats, but they don't have a man on duty after October, so the dogs stare up at the guard shack in vain.

Across Mary Street are the Clarke School Apartments, which used to be an elementary school. You know one of the tenants, and from time to time you meet her walking her own dog, a chihuahua named Demitasse. Her apartment faces Mary Street, so you can often hear Demitasse barking at your dogs as you pass by.

The basenjis lead you down Touro Court to Washington Square, site of Eisenhower Park with its statue of Oliver Hazard Perry. The park is a favorite hangout for the residents of the Old Navy Y, and you exchange greetings with a few of them as the dogs zigzag their way among the black-painted iron benches and towering trees. Then it's past the Colony House and along the sidewalk outside the Fastnet Pub. When the windows at the Fastnet are up, the basenjis sometimes like to stand up and put their paws up on the windowsills and have a look inside, which the pub's patrons always get a kick out of. Sadly, the windows are down today, so you and the dogs pass by.

It's back up Broadway, with frequent stops for the dogs to inspect promising bits of sidewalk for possible food-like items. Your odyssey ends on the front porch of your house, unleashing and unharnessing the basenjis before opening the front door and letting them charge inside. It's been a good walk, and the dogs will be spending a few hours snoozing on the bed while you fire up the computer and see what your fellow NaBloPoMo bloggers have been up to, and to go to the Weblog Awards site to cast a vote for Best Small Blog.


Anonymous said...

I never thought of writing in the second person. Interesting concept!

Rammi said...

Rammi approves of this post, and will vote for you if you get into the shortlist.

Anonymous said...

Ha! I knew it would catch on eventually.

Glad you (that's actually you) like it.

Dogs are useful objects, aren't they? I used to think I should borrow someone's as I rather enjoy going for long rambling walks and dogs give you good excuse to do that.

Of course, so do small children.

Johnny Pez said...

Thanks Rammi!

One important difference between dogs and children is that nobody looks at you funny if your dog stops to relieve himself against the side of a building.

Sometimes I envy my dogs their freedom.

Anonymous said...

Very clever idea, to write in second person! I just might have to try it.

(BTW, visiting from the Comment for Comment group on NaBlo!) :)

Johnny Pez said...

Please do, Tabitha. It's fascinating.