Since I got my dog, I’ve been listening to a lot of NPR.

You see, someone suggested I leave the radio on during the day when Riley was a wee puppy because the noise would help keep him calm, and help assure that he would not be a barker.  And as a woman who gave up custody of her ex-dogs, who were heavily Prozac’d by her ex-husband, in part for their excessive barking problem, this talk-radio trick seemed like a perfectly reasonable preventative medicine.

I do not have a fancy radio.  I have a 15 year old clock radio that works like a dream, but is almost impossible to program, and once I stumbled upon New York City’s NPR station (which was, admittedly, the least unpalatable of all of my talk-radio options), I just left the dial where it was.

A little bit of background here:

My father frequently accuses me of “having champagne tastes on a beer budget,” but I think he just has no idea a) how well I take care of my things so b) I don’t have to spend money on things that aren’t lost or broken.  For instance, the 15 year old clock radio.  I have moved between no less than 20 apartments in 5 states between the West Coast and up and down the Eastern Seaboard over those 15 years.  But I have always moved with the bulky, awkward clock radio.

Or, for example, my DVD player.  I got my DVD player for Christmas 2001.  That thing will be 10 years old this year.  I’ve moved 15-20 times with it; moved across the country with it.  I’ve developed a weird sort of fondness for it because it has been so reliable.

I walked away from almost everything I owned when I got divorced, and the things I have now are a) meaningful to me and b) represent all of my worldly possessions save for a kayak, a varsity letter jacket, and a Rubbermaid tub full of letters.

What happens when you strip everything away, and your life is pared down to mere essentials?  Can you survive on what you have on hand?  Can you thrive?  I had this conversation with Frederic once, and in retrospect, I think he was trying to provoke me. The questions are inherently provocative, though perhaps in a mild way. 

Over 2009 and 2010, there was so much that was happening to me, within me, around me, that I thought I would not survive.  But I have survived.  I am surrounded by wonderful people.  And I am even thriving.

But it is nice to know that even stripped down to essentials — to the basics of what my life was like before I was Mrs.; before I was a University graduate or a lawyer, or a Washingtonienne, or New Yorker — the radio still plays on my old clock radio.  And the sounds soothe my puppy the same way they would soothe me late into the night when I was young.  The things that have always worked and were always right, are still the same.

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