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Possibly as an escape, I’ve noticed myself imagining trips around the world, like, visiting my high school friend in Israel, or wandering through the Luxembourg gardens in Paris, or trying out my tiny cache of Spanish in Mexico or Barcelona. I want to go back to Prince Edward Island, where we went camping when I was three and four years old, to see it again in person. Then to Montreal, to see what French bagels taste like, or what Yiddish flavored French sounds like. I want to go on a cruise to Alaska, or Newfoundland. I want to see more of the world, but not the hot spots. I can’t deal with the hot spots. I’d have to go to Israel in the winter in order to bear it. I’d like to go on the Orient Express, or something like it, and write mysteries as I go. I want to go to New Zealand and see all of the places Mom took pictures of on her trip ten years ago.

But I worry. Vacations have never quite gone the way I hoped, if only because I bring myself with me. I don’t get a vacation from self-loathing, or exhaustion, or physical pain. I want to be someone who can walk all day through the streets of Paris, or Montreal, or Venice (unless Venice is all canals at this point), but I know I can’t do that. I’d wipe out in the first hour and need to lie down and wrap myself in heating pads just to make it to day two.

And Cricket is a real obstacle. I’m not sure there’s any place Cricket would be willing to stay, without her humans, for more than two minutes. We used to go for weekend trips upstate, or to DC, and bring Cricket (and Butterfly) along, but Cricket is a lot of work on a trip, and doesn’t do much to ingratiate herself to outsiders. She’s a special horror in elevators.


Miss Butterfly, with her roll of paper towels, on a road trip.


Miss Cricket, helping Grandma drive.


“Get me out of this elevator, right now!”

The other option is to go by myself and leave Cricket with her grandma at home, but that sounds awful to me. I had this idea for a trip across Europe, to follow in my mom’s footsteps from her solo trip when she was eighteen years old, and stayed in youth hostels, and went to acting camp in the south of France, and visited the Aran Islands, because they were the star of her favorite play. But I wouldn’t want to take that trip without her there to tell me what happened where and how things have changed since then.

And then there’s the logistics, like updating my passport, figuring out maps in strange cities, and getting any kind of clue about the exchange rate between dollars and euros. And would my cell phone even work? And, really, who could afford such a trip?

There’s one other thing that gives me pause.      My rabbi has a habit of saying that one of the few things he asks of his daughters is that they keep their passports up to date, just in case. And he doesn’t mean just in case they take a family trip to Greece. He means, just in case America spits us out as the strangers we are, and we have to be ready to run. This is my country. This is where I was born and where my parents, and three of my four grandparents, were born. This is my context. Long Island, New York, USA. It’s hard to see a vacation out of this country as a good thing, when in the back of my mind I’m afraid that I won’t be allowed back in, or won’t want to return, which would be even worse.

So, for now, I’m just going to live in my imagination, and practice my languages, and wonder what the trip would be like. Cricket likes this idea much better, too.


Much, much better.


Murdoch Mysteries


            Over winter break, when the TV shows were all on hiatus and replaced with football and hallmark movies, I fell into a DVD palooza of Murdoch Mysteries. I’d seen the first season of the show on PBS a few years ago, but then it disappeared and I assumed the show had stopped being made. When I went to the library to find something, anything, to fill the empty TV space, I saw six seasons of Murdoch just sitting on the shelves.

murdoch mysteries

            The show is Canadian and stars Yannick Bisson, who I recognized from a little movie I fell in love with as a teenager called “Hockey Night.” He was the classic long-lashed pretty teenage boy, and I was into that sort of thing.

Hockey Night

Hockey Night

            Murdoch Mysteries is set in turn of the twentieth century Toronto. Murdoch is a catholic detective in a largely protestant town, but his real uniqueness is that he’s scientific and inventive in his detecting techniques. He comes up with all kinds of borderline-anachronistic devices to solve his cases.

            His muse is the female coroner, one of the first generation of female doctors, and she is fascinated by his ideas and appreciative of his respect for her work. There’s a goofy constable, who proves himself to be kind and intelligent, despite some off the wall ideas, and a gruff inspector who recognizes Murdoch’s genius, and supports it, and only occasionally gets competitive and restless in his leadership role.

            These are good people, nice people. They travel through different aspects of Toronto society and do CSI type stuff and meet important figures, like Alexander Graham Bell and Henry Ford and Arthur Conan Doyle and prime ministers and so on. There’s something chaste about the show, because of the Catholicism of Murdoch and the time period. Murdoch lives in a boarding house and rides a bicycle, despite being somewhere in his thirties.

The slow burn of the romance between the doctor and the detective, the chaste way they court each other, the family feeling among the police officers, and maybe the Canadian-ness of the show, all called out to me.

When I was three or four years old, I think, we took family camping trips to Prince Edward Island, in Canada. I remember the ferry across to the island, and I remember the cliffs, because my brother threatened to push me over the side, but more must have seeped in, because when I eventually watched the miniseries of Anne of Green Gables, set in Prince Edward Island, the place seemed very familiar. I could almost smell it.

"What smell?"

“What smell?”

            I like binge watching TV shows. I did that long before the latest Netflix trend. I watched most of JAG and Buffy, the Vampire Slayer and Murder, She Wrote in two and three episode bursts, day after day, when they replayed on basic cable. It was such a relief to not have to wait for the next episode for a whole week. It allowed me to see patterns in the show, but more importantly, it let me bond with the characters more fully. It’s like when you talk to a friend for six hours at a shot instead of just a few minutes here and there.

Cricket, during a long night.

Cricket, during a long night.

            The dogs seemed to like Murdoch too, though maybe not for the same reasons as I did. My dogs are happiest when we are all together in the living room and focused on one thing. They’re not huge fans of one human at each computer, or humans wandering from room to room, separately. They prefer to be stretched out on the floor with the comfort of knowing that no one is leaving the room and this is where we all belong.

            I tend to prefer that too.

TV time

TV time

            In the midst of the snow, and the freakishly cold weather, and holidays that we don’t celebrate, we created this oasis of friends on the TV to keep us company. The only important breaks, to the dogs, were pee breaks out into the cold, and snacks. Otherwise, we were all happily snuggled into the warm living room, with Murdoch and his mysteries.